Amateur photographer captures picture of fireball over Banff

CALGARY – Talk about being in the right place at the right time: an amateur photographer who went to Banff on the weekend to take pictures of the Northern Lights, instead captured a photo a fireball.

“We were actually looking north when a bright light occurred,” said Calgary geoologist Brett Abernathy. “And we didn’t know what was going on, we thought ‘is there a car somehow coming down this road?’ ”

Abernethy was pointing his camera north towards Mount Rundle when he saw an exoplosion of light.

“ I wouldn’t say it exploded – maybe it almost exploded into a couple of different little small fireballs,” he said. “Initially it was blue coming through, a really brilliant blue like an arc welder.”

Greg Stein, the daily programs co-ordination at Telus Spark, says fireballs that bright are not common.

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“You’d see regular meteors just a couple every hour ever night, meteor showers obviously a bit more, but the fireball itself maybe once a year in Banff, I’d say.”

Stein says this one was probably the size of a fist, which is bigger than most.

”A nice solid piece of space debris,” said Stein.

Abernethy has sent his photo to National Geographic, hoping the magazine will publish it.

He’s thanking his lucky stars he nabbed the shot.

“There is a lot of luck involved. We get out enough that eventually something like that’s going to come together for one of us, and it did.”