'A huge flash': Meteorite hunters seek fiery ball that fell over B.C.
Published Wednesday, September 6, 2017 8:30AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 6, 2017 9:59AM EDT
The hunt is on for the remains of a meteorite after reports of a streaking fireball lighting up the night sky over B.C. and Alberta.
The fiery ball streaked through the sky Monday night, startling many in B.C, western Alberta, Washington, Idaho and Seattle. Several witnesses posted video online of what they saw, and nearly 300 individuals reported it to the American Meteor Society.
Witness Brenda McMullan, of Cochrane, Alta., describes hearing a “big explosion.”
“At first we thought maybe America was bombed, but we found out soon enough that it was a meteor, and it was a huge flash in the sky,” she told CTV Calgary.
“The whole house shook,” said Kyra Hoggan, of Castlegar, B.C. “Imagine that you hear a car crash, and then times it by 1,000.”
The American Meteor Society says it has narrowed down its flight path to the sky over the central Kootenays, and that the meteor appeared to go down near Meadow Creek, B.C.
Meteors are chunks of space rock that burst into flame as they burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Those that actually hit the Earth are reclassified as meteorites.
“This would be a very rare piece of rock, maybe the size of a refrigerator or a dishwasher,” Phil Langill, directory of the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory outside Calgary, told CTV Calgary.
However, the remains of the meteor are likely much smaller after burning up in the atmosphere – likely no larger than a golf ball, experts say.
Geoscientist Alan Hildebrand, of the University of Calgary, says the terrain near Meadow Creek will make it tough to find any meteorite fragments.
“The area out here is pretty tough in the sense it’s mountains and forests for the most part,” he told CTV Calgary. “It’s a lot easier if you’re looking in fields and the Prairies.”
Experts say it’s totally safe for amateur meteorite-hunters to go looking for the fireball’s remains.
“It will often have a very dark cover or coating on the outside called fusion crust,” said astronomer James Durbano.
Scientists hope to get their hands on any evidence at some point, in hopes of determining where it came from before it lit up the sky over Canada.
With files from CTV Calgary and CTV Vancouver