Fireball across Southern Ontario sky of interest to Western researchers (Video)
Astronomers at Western University believe meteor fragments may have crashed into Earth near the town of Argyle.
Around 11:37 p.m. on Sunday, a bright fireball streaked across the sky over Southern Ontario. Video evidence suggests some fragments may have survived and landed near the eastern shore of Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto.
The all-sky camera network operated by the physics and astronomy department at Western University recorded the meteor.
“This fireball was particularly significant because it was moving slowly, was on an asteroidal orbit, and ended very low in the atmosphere,” said Astronomy Postdoctoral Associate Denis Vida. “These are all good indicators that it survived.”
The fireball first became visible at an altitude of 90 km. It was still producing light at 29 km.
“The initial mass is believed to have been around ten kg, and we would expect tens of hundreds of grams of material on the ground,” continued Vida. “Meteorites are of great interest to researchers as studying them helps us understand the formation and evolution of the solar system.”
Researchers at Western and the Royal Ontario Museum hope to hear from anyone who found meteorites or witnessed the event. They should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday night’s event comes almost exactly one year after another meteor came down near Lindsay.
“February to April is known as the meteorite season in the Northern Hemisphere as the orbital geometry is perfect for observing fireballs and meteorite survival,” said Vida. “Only a few days ago, there was another meteorite fall in the U.K. we helped track. Summertime tends to be quieter as the days are longer, and it is very hard to observe fireballs during the day. The rest of the year, the Earth is in such a position that favours meteorite falls in the Southern Hemisphere.”
Meteorites usually have a dark, often scalloped exterior. They are denser than other rocks and may attract a magnet because of their high metal content. They should be placed in a clear plastic bag or aluminium foil and handled as little as possible to preserve their scientific value.
In Canada, meteorites belong to the owner of the land they come down on. Those searching for them should always obtain permission before venturing onto private property.