Cosmic coincidence? 2nd fireball shoots over Maritimes in 24 hours
Published Wednesday, March 19, 2014 7:29PM EDT
Two fireballs shot through the sky over the Maritimes roughly 24 hours apart in an event that astronomy experts call a "cosmic coincidence."
Witnesses in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick report seeing a fireball shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.
A mysterious bright light also shot over the Maritimes early Tuesday morning, with some residents in eastern Quebec also seeing a bright light around the same time.
It's the third time this month that fireballs were reported in the East Coast.
Astronomy professor Rob Thacker of Saint Mary's University says it was merely a coincidence that the two fireballs blazed across the horizon almost exactly 24 hours apart, but that's where the comparisons end.
"Yesterday's object is probably a once- or twice-a-year kind of object, maybe a little more common than that," he told CTV Atlantic on Wednesday. "Today's is probably something that happens maybe three or four times a day around the world."
Thacker said Tuesday’s fireball, which experts say was likely a meteor, was roughly a metre in diameter -- big enough to cast shadows as it passed by.
"Today's is much less powerful," Thacker said, noting that today's object was about one-fifth the diameter of yesterday's object and not big enough to cast any shadows.
Paul Health, the president of the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, said it's possible the Earth could be passing through a debris field left behind by a comet or asteroid, although he noted that experts have not yet collected enough data to know for sure.
"The fact that they both happened roughly at the same period of time is coincidental, but it's also what would be expected during a meteor shower," he said. "The intensity would increase during that period of time."
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jayson Baxter