Just after 10 p.m. MST Monday, some Edmontonians reported seeing a possible meteor shoot across the night sky.
“They would have been able to see a bright meteor across the sky, something that we call a fireball,” said Frank Florian, a senior manager of planetary and space sciences with the Telus World of Science Edmonton.
“This thing was really spectacular for those who got to see it.”
Florian said the fireball was spotted somewhere to the northeast of Edmonton. There were reports from Edson, Sherwood Park and Edmonton, he added.
Several people shared video and photos of the fireball with Global News.
There’s no predicting when and where meteors will occur, Florian explained.
“These things are all sporadic. There’s no rhyme or reason to when they occur. It’s just when the earth encounters this particular material in space.
“If it’s going over our location here in Alberta, we get to see a fireball. There’s stuff that falls on the Earth on a daily basis but most of it takes place over the Earth’s oceans or it might be half a world away on the other side of the world and we don’t get to see it.”
However, the Spring months — March and April — tend to see more fireballs than any other time of year, Florian said.
“The past couple of years, there have been a lot more fireball reports that have come our way.”
There is no word if — or where — the possible meteorite connected to Monday night’s sighting may have landed.
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Christopher Herd, a professor in the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at the University of Alberta, said the projected fall area is near Calling Lake, Alta. Yet given how small and weak the material was, experts don’t believe a large meteorite survived and therefore a search for one isn’t warranted.
He also shared thoughts from his colleague Hadrien Devillepoix, a research associate at Curtin U’s school of earth and planetary sciences.
“It punched a fair way through the atmosphere,” Devillepoix wrote, “but it was a pretty weak object (not cometary, but could be something carbonaceous like).”
Florian said soundwaves are sometimes used to estimate how large the meteorite that hits the earth could be.
“They actually use soundwaves from these explosions that take place to come up with some general idea of how massive the object was,” he said. “But with this one, we don’t have audible sounds that have been recorded — that I know of yet — and so we wouldn’t have any indication of how big it is yet.
“Even that brightening of the rock itself… that’s really the Earth’s atmosphere glowing from the speed of the rock, the Earth’s atmosphere heats up and creates that glow,” Florian explained.
“When the rock gets down lower in the atmosphere, the air can’t move out of the way fast enough, so that rock sometimes fragments into a lot of pieces or disintegrates completely, and that’s when you see that big flash.”