VIDEO: Apparent ‘fireball’ lights up Kitchener night sky, visible as far away as Ohio
KITCHENER — Sam Nabi was sitting on a park bench in Victoria Park, looking up at the night sky, when something caught his eye.
It was around 9.30pm on Tuesday when suddenly the night came alive, first with brilliant blue and white light, followed by what it said looked like an orange tail.
He wasn’t the only one watching the stars at the right time.
Experts believe the sighting could have been a fireball, a term used to describe a very bright meteor. It happens when an asteroid or comet fragment, known as a meteoroid, breaks apart when it encounters the thickest part of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Objects causing fireballs can measure more than a meter.
In the hours that followed, 71 different people reported seeing the fireball to the International Meteor Organization, with most viewings taking place in southwestern Ontario, as well as Michigan, the Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania.
Sightings have been reported as far north as Elliot Lake, Ontario, and as far south as Columbus, Ohio.
A dash cam in London, Ontario captured the entire event, which lasted just a few seconds, and showed what appears to be the fireball crashing into the earth .
The tail, as originally portrayed by Nabi from the park bench, appears near the end of the video. In total, it only lasts eight seconds, with the fireball being visible for about three seconds.
The video was posted online on Reddit.
It’s hard to say for sure what it was based on initial reports and video footage, said Brian McNamara, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo.
“But it looks like a pretty big meteor, possibly a bolide, that hit the atmosphere and disintegrated,” he said in an email. “Some debris may have hit the ground, but again, hard to tell. Exciting video footage.
According to the American Meteor Society, a bolide refers to “a special type of fireball that explodes in a terminal flash of light at its tip, often with visible fragmentation.”
Based on the London video footage, local astronomy expert Ellen Papenburg said she also believed it was a fireball or bolide.
To put it in layman’s terms: “A big bright meteor,” she said.
According to the summer meteor shower schedule, the Perseids, Alpha Capricornids, and Southern Delta Aquariids are all currently active.
Papenburg, a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Astronomy Club, said Tuesday’s sighting could have been part of one of those meteor showers, but it could also have been a sporadic and random sighting.
Thousands of meteors occur in Earth’s atmosphere every day, but sightings of this magnitude are quite rare.
The American Meteor Society suggests that experienced observers can only expect to see one major fireball for every 200 hours of meteor viewing.
But never fear, fireball hopefuls. With three different meteor showers currently active and warm summer weather, it’s easy to spend the night stargazing, it’s the perfect time of year to pull out a blanket and spend the night gazing above. .
You never know what might flash in the night sky.