Very bright fireball over Ontario, meteorites likely near Bancroft, Canada


A very bright fireball streaked through the night sky over Ontario, Canada at 07:44 UTC on July 24, 2019. The event lasted about 5 seconds.

The fireball, as bright as the full moon, was recorded by 10 all-sky cameras of Western University's Southern Ontario Meteor Network (SOMN). Cameras as far away as Montreal recorded the event, the university said in a press release.

Initial analysis of the video data by Steven Ehlert at the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office suggests the recent meteorite fragments are likely to have fallen to the ground near Bancroft, Ontario. See 'fall zone' image below.

YouTube video

YouTube video

"This fireball likely dropped a small number of meteorites in the Bancroft area, specifically near the small town of Cardiff. We suspect meteorites made it to the ground because the fireball ended very low in the atmosphere just to the west of Bancroft and slowed down significantly. This is a good indicator that material survived," says Brown.

Preliminary results indicate that the fireball first became visible just south of Oshawa over Lake Ontario at an altitude of 93 km (57 miles). It traveled over Clarington and passed just west of Peterborough before extinguishing just west of Bancroft. The fireball rivaled the full moon in brightness and had a number of bright flares near the end of its flight. The meteoroid was roughly the size of a small beachball (approximately 30 cm / 11.8 inches in diameter) and likely dropped a small number of meteorite fragments in the tens to hundreds of grams size-range on the ground.

Brown and his collaborators at Western and the Royal Ontario Museum are interested in connecting with people from the area of the potential fall, who may have heard anything unusual, or who may have found possible meteorites.

Meteorites fall zone. Credit: Western University

"Meteorites are of great interest to researchers as studying them helps us to understand the formation and evolution of the solar system," Brown said.

They can be recognized by their dark, often scalloped exterior. Usually they will be denser than a ‘normal’ rock and will often be attracted to a magnet due to their metal content. Meteorites are not dangerous, but if recovered, it is best to place them in a clean plastic bag or wrap them in aluminum foil. If you have found a suspicious rock that may be from this event, please contact Kim Tait of the Royal Ontario Museum at ktait@rom.on.ca

YouTube video

Featured image: Ontario fireball July 24, 2019. Credit: Western University


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