A large, bright green meteor streaked through the sky over southern Ontario late Friday night.
Reports showed up on Twitter around 9:50 pm Eastern Time, as the meteor traced a line starting just east of Georgian Bay, and passing southwest through the middle of southwestern Ontario:
Just saw a #meteor over McKellar - apparently it was seen all over Ontario. So cool!
— Daniel Kerr (@DanielKerr22) July 13, 2013
— Melissa Savage (@mksavage08) July 13, 2013
— Donna Bruni (@donnabruni) July 13, 2013
Also, right about the same time, there were a few reports from as far south as Illinois as well, with one even capturing a picture:
— Jamie Wilborn (@JamieWilborn) July 13, 2013
This wasn't the only report from Friday night, either. Another bright meteor was reported at about 12:15 am EDT Saturday, but this time from Nashville, TN,
and there were numerous other reports from this same meteor throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, the Carolinas and even in Georgia.
Meteors are caused by the Earth passing through dust, rocks and ice left behind from the formation of the solar system, or from comets or asteroids that cross Earth's orbit, leaving behind trails of debris as they do. They are usually very rapid streaks of light across the sky that are usually bright white, but can be other colours if the bit of debris has certain elements in it. Blue/green means it has copper, yellow/orange is sodium, yellow is iron, purple is from potassium and red means it has silicate in it.
A fireball is caused when a larger chunk of debris hits the atmosphere and burns very hot and very bright. Whereas the tiny specks that cause typical meteors burn out very quickly, these large chunks can last for hundreds of kilometres. Thus the wide-ranging reports from these two meteors reported last night.
If an fireball is exceptionally bright — brighter than the full moon — astronomers call it a 'bolide'.
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With this meteor activity, it could just be random bits of rock our planet is intercepting as we orbit the Sun (we encounter tons of the stuff every day). However it's also possible that it could be an early start to the Alpha Capricornids meteor shower, which is known for creating bright fireballs. The video below is of a bright fireball or bolide seen over northern Argentina back in April of this year.
Now, it's not very likely that it's the Alpha Capricornids, since we're a bit early for that shower (it's known to start as early as July 15th, but we're still a few days off from that), and the meteor that flashed across Ontario came from the northeast, whereas the meteor shower appears to originate from the constellation Capricornus, which is in the southeast part of the sky at this time of the year, at the time when the meteor was seen.
So, we're probably back to random bits of rock, but I'm looking forward to seeing the official reports on these meteors.
Did you see a meteor or fireball tonight? For anyone living in Canada, you can report it to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (click here, fill out the CAPTCHA and fill out the form on the next page). The American Meteor Society (click here) will accept meteor reports from both Canada or the United States.
(Stock photo courtesy: Getty Images)
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