Exploded meteor could have been as big as a basketball
Footage shot from Bridge Lake, B.C., shows the sky light up when the meteor exploded. (Screen shot)
Meteor expert Brett Gladman won’t be organizing any search parties for the remains of the bright object seen streaking across southeastern B.C. last night.
What’s left of the rock — if anything — will be in the form of heavily charred gravel spread over rough, mountainous terrain.
“I won’t be getting in my car to look for it,” said Gladman, an associate professor at UBC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. “But if someone finds a piece they should call me.”
The brightness of the meteor and the fact that it exploded during its descent through the Earth’s atmosphere suggest it was likely between 10 and 30 centimetres across, he said.
“There are reports from people along Kootenay Lake of a loud detonation, which is not unusual for large-ish objects,” he said. “Going off statistics ... it’s probably 10 centimetres across, possibly basketball-sized.”
Objects of that size seldom hit the ground intact, he said.
Shuttle driver Gary Eagle saw the meteor as it entered the upper atmosphere and lit up the night in front of him on the Whitecap Dakota First Nation.
"I was facing due west and it was bright yellow and orange," he said. "It could see it breaking up and tumbling across the sky and then there was a gigantic orange light when it hit the horizon."
The path of the fireball was widely observed in Montana, Idaho, eastern Alberta and southeastern B.C. just after 10 p.m., ending with a loud boom in the vicinity of Meadow Creek, according to the American Meteor Society.
Most of the 90-plus reports made to the society came from British Columbia.
Ryan Doehle of Fernie caught the fireball on video from multiple angles on security cameras installed by his IT firm Isosceles Business Systems.
"My mother-in-law was sitting by the window and saw a huge flash and heard a boom," said Doehle. "I saw Facebook lighting up with reports and got up to start pulling videos. We have cameras all over the region."
His footage shows the area around Fernie lit up so brightly when the meteor exploded that some cameras switched to daylight mode.
Here's the meteor. Apparently it landed near Nelson, BC. 200km west of Calgary pic.twitter.com/DprrY42FsI— RP (@RafaelPern) September 5, 2017
Police received calls from Nelson, the Okanagan, the Comox Valley and as far as Calgary to the east.
RCMP Staff Sergeant Troy Gross said it’s a little out of the ordinary for so many people across such a large area to call about a single thing.
One Twitter user said the event “definitely” shook their house in Nelson while another reported a “very bright flash” followed by a “large bang” about four minutes later.
A resident in Creston reported seeing a “huge green flash in the sky” followed by an orange fireball then a sonic boom that shook the house.
Meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere travelling at speeds between 20- and 30-kilometres per second, which burns the atmosphere and finally it explodes in a “terminal burst.”
“It’s probably an ordinary chondrite, a stoney meteoroid, rather than one of the nice iron ones you see in museums,” said Gladman. “Stoney meteorites make up 80 to 90 per cent of all the fireballs.”
With a file from Canadian Press.