Fireball spotted in sky over Maritimes could have been meteor: professor

HALIFAX – People across the Maritime provinces are reporting having seen a fireball in the sky early Tuesday morning that some think could have been a meteor.

Social media users and callers to local radio stations reported seeing an extremely bright streak of light — some described it as a fireball — shortly after 5 a.m. that lasted for a few seconds before falling toward the northern horizon.

Dr. Bob Hawkes, a physics professor at Mount Allison University, said what people saw was “with near certainty” a meteor.

WATCH: Fireball spotted on security camera in New Brunswick

He said there is no way to know for certain without more photo or video evidence, or without evidence of a meteorite landing on the ground.

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An image captured by a webcam in Masstown, N.S. shows a white light streaking just above the horizon at 5:04 a.m.

Hawkes said fireballs are common, but the brightness of the trail does not necessarily indicate it was a large meteor.

“Meteors even as small as a basketball can create bright fireballs in the sky,” he said.

He said if it was a meteor, it likely broke up before and ever reached the earth.

Seamus Byrne was heading home after an overnight snowmobile run near Shediac, N.B. when he saw a fireball in the sky.

“It was huge. It lit up the entire sky, with a trail that continued for what appeared to be miles,” he said. “I thought the only things it could be [were] a meteor or  a shooting star.”

Byrne’s friend Terry Allen, who had been out with him, saw it on his way home, too, and thought it was a meteor.

“I saw a flash above the truck. It basically broke into pieces and fell straight to the Earth,” he said.

Allen said he texted Byrne as soon as he got home to see if he had also seen it.

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Hawkes said news of the sightings likely gained traction quickly on social media because people have a heightened sense of awareness since a large meteor hit Russia in 2013 and caused widespread damage.

Sightings have been reported in Halifax and spanning as far northern New Brunswick.

The International Space Station (ISS) was reportedly due to pass over the region at some point on Tuesday morning. NASA reported the space station had to dodge part of an old satellite on Monday.

RCMP Sgt. Al LeBlanc said he is only aware of one call that may have been related to what was seen when someone in the Truro area reported what looked like a yellow flare in the sky.

*with files from Global News reporter Shelley Steeves and The Canadian Press