This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.

23 November 2008

Meteor in Alberta in western Canada on 20 November 2008

From Canadian Press article...

Scientist determines pieces of large meteor may have landed in central Sask.

2 days ago

SASKATOON — A leading researcher says one of the largest meteors to streak over Canada in the last decade broke up into pieces that may have landed in central Saskatchewan.

Planetary scientist Alan Hildebrand from the University of Calgary plans to spend the weekend in the Manitou Lake area near the town of Macklin, Sask., about 100 kilometres south of Lloydminster, near the Alberta boundary.

As co-ordinator of the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre with the Canadian Space Agency, Hildebrand was busy Friday talking with some of the witnesses who sent him 300 e-mail reports about the fireball they saw light up the night sky Thursday.

With their descriptions of the meteor - its brightness, colour and sound - he pinpointed the most likely fall location to be near Manitou Lake.

"Right now, the important thing is not searching because we don't know which field to search in. It's a big world," Hildebrand said. "What's important now is finding proximal eyewitnesses, so you know where meteorites might have fallen."

Meteor sightings have been widely reported across the Prairies, from Edmonton to Regina to Swan River, Man. Witnesses heard sonic boom rumblings and reported it was as bright as the sun.

Cattle farmer Trevor Crisp had just finished hauling a load of animals when he arrived at his home near the village of Richard, about 200 kilometres west of Manitou Lake, for supper Thursday night. It was completely dark outside.

"All of a sudden everything lit up," said Crisp. "I thought it must have been a lightning strike.

"You could hear quite a rumble going through, and you could see a bit of vibration in the windows. It was pretty neat."

Tammy Evans was getting some sleep before her night shift as a nurse in North Battleford, Sask., when her worried 10-year-old daughter ran into the bedroom.

"She said there was a flash of light, and she said the house shook twice and it sounded like dinosaurs were walking."

Minutes later, Evans received a call from her brother-in-law who was driving to Edmonton.

"He said the whole sky lit up, and he had to squint because he couldn't see."

Hildebrand says the meteor could likely be seen up to 700 kilometres away, into the northern United States. It contained about a tenth of a kiloton of energy when it entered the earth's atmosphere, equal to 100 tons of the chemical explosive TNT.

"It would be something like a billion-watt light bulb."

Besides sonic boom sounds, he said witnesses also reported hearing hissing or crackling noises like frying bacon. Fireballs can act as radio transmitters, Hildebrand said, causing odd sounds.

He said other people saw the meteor break into pieces and turn red as it slowed down.

Because it came down over the bald prairie instead of ocean or forest, there's a good chance meteorites may be found, said Hildebrand. He just wants to get to them before they're covered or ruined by more snow.

Martin Beech, an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Regina, said meteorites are valuable to learning about the history of the solar system. The artifacts are 4.5 billion years old.

"Picking up a meteorite is almost equivalent to doing a space exploration mission between Mars and Jupiter," he said.

Richard Herd is curator of Canada's national meteorite collection in Ottawa, with samples from 1,100 different meteorites that have landed across the country.

He said the biggest meteorite fall occurred northeast of Edmonton near the town of Bruderheim in 1960. More than 700 fragments recovered totalled 300 kilograms.

About 75 fireball events are reported each year.

Rick Huziak, an amateur astronomer in Saskatoon, helps operate a fireball camera on top of the University of Saskatchewan physics building that captured video of the meteor.

Although the camera records one every two to three weeks, this meteor was among the brightest seen in Canada in the last dozen years, he said.

"It was quite spectacular. The ground lights up all over the place."

Huziak said only one in a thousand fireballs actually drop meteorites. Most meteors burn up completely.

Phil Langill, director of the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory at the University of Calgary, said he wasn't lucky enough to see the meteor.

But if someone is lucky enough to find one of its meteorites, they should be careful not to contaminate it.

"So if anybody finds it, they should pick it up carefully with a Ziploc bag or something like that and not touch it with their hands."

Link: Article


  1. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Has anyone reported this meteor found as of yet? was there any seismic reports of its impact?

  2. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Did anyone ever find the meteor debris?

    Was their any seismic readings taken from the impact site and confirmed?


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