Early risers across Alberta catch glimpse of ‘particularly bright’ meteor

People across Alberta, and as far away as Saskatchewan, were treated to a bright light other than the rising sun on Monday morning.

A quick flash was seen streaking across the early morning sky by people in Calgary and Edmonton, with reports early risers in the communities of Vulcan County, Stavely and even Saskatoon also saw the spectacle.

Read more: Balls of fire: A look at Alberta’s meteor events in 2020

Videos from security cameras sent to Global News and posted to Twitter show a glowing ball of light falling fast toward the Earth, briefly lighting up the dark sky and leaving a long, bright streak in its wake.

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Some lucky morning people who caught a glimpse of the display reported the bright light was red, green and yellow.

People said the bright light lit up the sky just before 6:30 a.m.

Read more: Apparent meteor seen streaking across the night sky in Calgary, Banff

According to professor and curator of meteorite collection at the University of Alberta Dr. Chris Herd, the bright flash was likely a meteor — and because it was “particularly bright,” they’re classifying it as a fireball.

“It means that some kind of a rock has come through the atmosphere and the outside is heated up to give us that bright fireball that people have caught on their doorbell cameras and other places,” Herd told 630 CHED Mornings.

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Click to play video 'Possible meteor captured in Calgary’s Auburn Bay neighbourhood' Possible meteor captured in Calgary’s Auburn Bay neighbourhood

Possible meteor captured in Calgary’s Auburn Bay neighbourhood – Feb 19, 2020

Herd said it’s possible experts will locate fragments of the meteor, called meteorites, but it depends on the size.

“The brighter it is, the bigger the rock that enters the atmosphere.”

The outside of the meteor heats up and eventually breaks the meteor into smaller pieces, and Herd said if the chunk of space rock — which likely broke off an asteroid — was big enough to start with, it could mean sizeable pieces can be found and studied.

Where those fragments could have landed, though, is a total mystery.

Herd said the end point of the bright streak of the meteor is typically as much as 15 to 20 kilometres in altitude, meaning the chunks of rock continue falling in what’s called “dark flight.”

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“People need to be aware that it’s a bit of an optical illusion,” he said. “What we need is observations from different orientations so we can literally triangulate.”

Herd said in November 2008, a large fireball was seen in the Alberta sky and many people believed it “landed” in the Edmonton river valley, but the fragments were actually found an entire province away in Saskatchewan.

Read more: Calgary researchers find meteorite fragment from September fireball

Herd said Monday’s light show was likely a one-off, and different from a meteor shower, which is classified by the Earth passing through a collection of space dust.

Anyone who saw or captured video of the meteor is encouraged to submit their information to the American Meteor Society’s Report a Fireball site.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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