Streaking meteor over B.C. caught on video
Meredith MacLeod, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, March 18, 2017 3:44PM EDT
The rare sight of a meteor crashing through the clear sky over the B.C. coast Thursday night was captured on a number of dashcam videos.
The streaking, fiery descent to Earth at about 9:40 p.m. local time was caught by cameras in Vancouver, Kelowna, in the Okanagan Valley, and even Seattle.
“When I saw the video, I was pretty excited because I love seeing events like that at night,” said Michael Unger, programs coordinator at the HR MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver. He says it was a “rare treat” to have clear skies in Vancouver to witness the bright light.
The American Meteor Society says it received 74 reports of a “fireball” from B.C., Washington, Idaho and Oregon through its online tracking service.
“I’ve seen small, white falling stars before but never anything like this,” Kathy M. wrote on the site, describing the meteor as large and bright green “with a huge white tail.”
Brett Gladman, a professor of astronomy at the University of British Columbia, says the meteor was likely travelling between 72,000 and 90,000 kilometres an hour.
“It lights up due to friction with the atmosphere and burns for a few seconds.”
He says meteors fall over Vancouver perhaps once a year.
“It’s not like the monstrous thing that happened a few years ago over Russia, which is really once a century.”
That meteor, about the size of a city bus, caused a sonic boom when it broke apart over central Russia four years ago.
The meteor that hurtled over the west coast Thursday was a “much more common scale of probably 10 centimetres to a metre in diameter,” said Gladman.
That will make finding the fragments – called meteorites – more difficult.
“Unfortunately, it looks like it’s over a very heavily wooded and mountainous area in central Washington,” said Gladman.
But people find the rock-like remnants of meteors all the time, said Unger. He says this meteor is likely made up of nickel-iron.
-with a report from Shannon Paterson, CTV Vancouver