Meteor streaked over Ontario, experts confirm
Published Monday, May 5, 2014 8:02AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 5, 2014 8:51PM EDT
A meteor did in fact enter the Earth's atmosphere and streak across the skies over Ontario on Sunday, experts have confirmed.
University of Western Ontario astronomy professor Peter Brown told CTV Toronto that a meteor passed over Peterborough, Ont., located about 130 kilometres east of Toronto, shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
While most of the equipment used to track meteors was not in operation at the time, a series of microphones the university has in place did detect a shockwave, Brown said.
He said the meteor, estimated between one-half to one metre in diameter, was big enough that parts likely struck the Earth.
And Phil McCausland, earth sciences professor at Western University, said the rock likely weighed one tonne when it hit the upper atmosphere.
“We think that the event is probably somewhat to the east of Peterborough in terms of where it occurred and in terms of ground location,” he told CTV News Channel. “And we’re thinking that it’s possible that it could have produced meteorites on the ground.”
McCausland said a signature characteristic of a fallen meteorite is its dark and bumpy outer surface.
Jean Fox thinks she may have may have found some fragments in her backyard. “I gathered up all this black stone and all of sudden it dawned on me that it could be that meteor,” she told CTV Toronto.
Social media lit up late Sunday afternoon with a number of Ontarians and some U.S. residents reporting seeing a flash of light in the sky, or hearing a loud rumble.
Videos of the event were also posted online, while the American Meteor Society had about a dozen pending investigations in connection with the reported meteor strike.
One witness told CTV Toronto that he heard a loud crash on Sunday afternoon.
"I thought it was something upstairs in my house, but I went upstairs couldn't figure out what it was," the Peterborough resident said.
Sheri Adams, also of Peterborough, was in her apartment when she heard was she describes as a "whoosh" followed by a loud "boom."
"I didn't know if it was thunder, because there was no lightening," she said. "People (in the building) were scurrying in the hall because they thought one of our elevators had dropped."
"Everybody kind of seemed to be going crazy," she added.
Experts routinely check the skies for nighttime events with a camera network covering southern Ontario, but spotting daytime meteorites can be challenging, McCausland said.
“In the daytime, what we’re relying upon really is visual accounts and things like dashboard cams in order to provide information on meteor or possible meteor events,” he said.
Margaret Campbell-Brown, professor of physics and astronomy at Western University, said the meteor was a hundred times brighter than the full moon. “Which is unusual in meteors, so this was a large event,” she told CTV Toronto.
With files from CTV Toronto’s Zuraidah Alman