September 13, 2017 2:19 pm
Updated: September 15, 2017 7:50 am

Calgary professor seeks video of fireball that streaked across Alberta, BC sky

WATCH: Videos obtained by Global News shows a bright light illuminating the night sky across southern Alberta on Monday evening.

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A professor from the University of Calgary is asking anyone who may have video of an eye-catching fireball that streaked through the sky on Sept. 4 to send it his way.

Residents in British Columbia and southern Alberta spotted the brilliant meteor late in the evening, taking to social media to share photos and video of it rocketing by. The fireball was even seen by people in Montana, Idaho and Washington State.

READ MORE: Calgarians use social media to share photos, video of fireball

Now, Professor Alan Hildebrand is looking for video of the space rock to help him identify its precise trajectory, which will then help researchers make a better prediction of where meteorites fell.

WATCH: Compilation of videos posted to social media capture bright flash in skies over BC.


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The fireball’s course: from Idaho to Kaslo, B.C.

Researchers at the U of C have used video and eye-witness accounts to piece together the course they believe the fireball took, saying it’s believed it hit earth’s atmosphere northeast of Priest Lake, Idaho, headed slightly west of due north.

It then raced across the border, passing west of Creston, B.C., and heading up the Kootenay Lake valley to cross the Crawford Bay peninsula.

Researchers think the meteor ended southeast of Kaslo, B.C.

READ MORE: Fireball? Meteor? 5 things to know about the bright light over Western Canada

In a Wednesday news release, Hildebrand said the fireball travelled more than 100 kilometres in approximately eight seconds, shaking the Kootenay valley with thunder-like booms.

‘Largest rocks’ may have fallen into Kootenay Lake

The asteroid fragment is estimated to have weighed between one and five tonnes before it broke up, but the surviving rocks have not yet been found.

“The largest rocks may have fallen into Kootenay Lake,” he said, adding their preliminary estimate indicates they’d be on the east side stretching from the community of Riondel to Garland Bay.

“Anyone interested in searching for meteorites should know that the area is mostly forested with moderate to steep slopes,” he added. “Also be mindful the fire risk in the area remains high.”

Calculating the space rock’s pre-fall orbit

U of C researchers have travelled to the Kootenay area of B.C. to interview eyewitnesses and view video taken by security cameras, but they’re looking for more help to pinpoint where the rare rocks from space may have landed.

“Social media and the web are making it easier to gather information, but you still have to be in the field to collect and calibrate observations,” Hildebrand said.

READ MORE: ‘Bright light in sky’ prompts dozens of calls to B.C. RCMP

A dedicated fireball all-sky camera run by Rick Nowell at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook captured a detailed record of the fireball from start to finish which will be used to calculate a pre-fall orbit for the rock.

“This is a great opportunity to recover meteorites that have fallen from a known orbit – that has only been done about two dozen times before and is a big science bonus,” Nowell said.

Do you have any video that could help?

Researchers encourage anyone running security or wildlife cameras in the Kootenay Lake area to check their cameras from Sept. 4 at approximately 10:11 p.m. PDT to see if they captured the light or shadows cast by the fireball.

Anyone with a video is asked to contact Alan Hildebrand at ahildebr@ucalgary.ca.

WATCH:  Big Sky Observatory astronomer and director James Durbano joined Global Calgary on Sept. 5, 2017 to discuss what we likely saw in the night sky. 

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