If you happened to be looking skyward over Metro Vancouver on Thursday afternoon, you may have been lucky enough to catch a shooting star so bright it was visible in broad daylight.
Motorist Al Dinis caught the bright flash on his dashcam as he was eastbound on Marine Way at North Fraser Way in Burnaby, around 1:30 p.m.
Dinis most likely saw a meteor — a lump of space rock that’s been captured by earth’s gravitational force, says Rachel Wang, an astronomer at Vancouver’s HR MacMillan Space Centre.
“When they enter Earth’s atmosphere and then they start burning up and if they become really bright they’re fireballs, or normally we call them shooting stars,” she said.
How bright a meteor burns can depend on a number of factors, including how big it is and how fast it is moving as it interacts with the atmosphere and burns.
While a meteor bright enough to become a “fireball” visible in broad daylight is not a common sight, Wang says they’re not as rare as many would imagine either, at least at this time of year.
“Meteorite sightings increase during the vernal equinox … so spring season is actually peak fireball season,” she said.
Whether or not any fragments of the meteor survived its fiery plunge and touched the earth — to officially become a meteorite — is unknown, but Wang said it’s possible.
“Maybe,” she said. “I have high hopes.”