The Huge Canadian Fireball

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DID SOMETHING LAND?

Have you heard the one about that huge meteor that sailed across Canada this evening and blew up with a huge fire ball?

“...CTV Calgary has also received several calls about the fireball, and one witness said it was so bright that it was visible from the Deerfoot freeway in the city’s core. Other witnesses in Lloydminster, located on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan, said the light was so strong that it appeared to be daylight when it passed over the area. And locals at the Red Pheasant First Nation, 100 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, said the walls of their band office shook when the fireball streaked overhead. The fireball may have crashed into the ground about 200 kilometres south of Calgary, according to witness Rob Westland. Westland told CTV Calgary that he was driving with his son when the pair spotted a massive light. The Brooks, Alta., resident said that the fireball was about the size of a house and that it may slammed into the ground with a muffled boom. Meanwhile, Calgary-based astronomer Alan Dyer said that it’s too soon to speculate on what caused the light….”

(Last Tuesday driving back from Tucson to Tombstone I saw a huge meteor flair out in the sky – one of the brightest I’ve ever seen.)

According to the Calgary Herald, this was one whopper of a fireball.  There are reports that “something landed” but then again we are approaching the Leonid Meteor shower, where strange things happen.  I don’t think the Martians have landed, though.
“…”According to NavCanada, it appears that this was the result of a meteorite, but that has not been confirmed,” said Rudolph, adding that operations at the airport were not affected.
“What we probably saw was a fireball, which is the result of a rock coming into the atmosphere,” said Chris Herd, an associate professor in the University of Alberta’s department of earth and atmospheric sciences and curator of the university’s meteorite collection.
“The big question now is whether or not anything hit the ground.”
Richard Huziak, a member of the Royal Astronomical Society who lives in Saskatoon, believes it was likely a meteor that did land somewhere near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border.
It may be possible to determine a more precise location, since fireball video cameras designed to begin recording when a bright light appears in the sky are located in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Edmonton and Calgary.
“It’s very likely this one has been caught. It will show the track through the sky and might show the orbit back into space,” Huziak said.
But while many of the witnesses claimed to see something land, Herd said this was most likely an optical illusion. Since the fireball was a bright light several kilometres up in a dark sky, it would have appeared close to anyone who could see it. If something did fall to the Earth, it’s extremely unlikely anyone would have witnessed it, Herd said. As the object fell through the Earth’s atmosphere, it would slow down and the resulting decrease in friction would cause it to stop burning.
“What we know about fireballs is that they’re bright burning up for a certain amount of time in the atmosphere, but then they stop burning brightly. If there’s a rock that continues after that, it’s falling in dark flight,” he said.
“This could literally be a couple of kilometres up in the air and it could fall the whole rest of the way without giving off any light. It could drop like a rock to the ground.”
Herd said while fireballs are quite frequent, they don’t generally happen over populated areas.
“Something as bright as this is pretty rare,” he said.
If something did ultimately hit the ground, Herd said, it would be a very exciting find.
“It’s not often that something actually lands and is found, because of all the factors that are working against you,” he said, adding he hopes anyone who finds a new rock in their yard tomorrow will get in touch with him….”

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