CCNet 14/2001 - 27 January 2001


Mysterious light streaks across sky

From Calgary Herald, 26 January 2001

Fireball visible from Edmonton to Calgary

Colleen Turner, Calgary Herald, with a report from Jeremy Hainsworth,
Calgary Herald

Calgary astronomers this morning are trying to determine if a fireball
that streaked across the sky Thursday night before exploding sent any
meteorite particles falling towards the Earth.

Several eyewitnesses reported seeing a bright star-like dot in the sky
at about 7:20 p.m. The dot, located in the north sky, headed east for
about four seconds before bursting in a bright fireball.

Don Hladiuk, an amateur astronomer, captured the fireball on a camera he
has set up in his Sundance den. The camera, which has been in operation
for about a year, has never captured anything quite so spectacular.

"I got lucky tonight," Hladiuk said. He said the fireball shone brighter
and brighter in the seconds before it burst.

"Most likely it was a space rock -- bigger than a grain of sand, and
smaller than a bread box.

"We don't know if any of it hit the Earth or not."

Determining whether any fragments made it through the atmosphere is the
goal of Alan Hildebrand today.

Hildebrand, co-ordinator of the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre at
the University of Calgary, said he's heard from eyewitnesses in Calgary.
He's now looking forward to hearing from his colleagues in Edmonton, and
is also looking for accounts from people in Red Deer.

"If (any particles) fell, they would be out in the plains," he said.

Hildebrand said only one or two such fireballs are visible in Calgary
each year. Other meteors occur, but because they fall toward Earth
during the day or in cloudy conditions they are not visible to the naked

"Having a video of it makes it much more interesting . . . And what is
particularly neat is that witnesses were close to the end of the

The recording could help plot the orbit where the meteor came from.

Once it's discovered where the fireball exploded, it will be easier to
determine if any particles fell to the ground.

"If so, we can ask farmers to take a look in their fields," said

Despite confirmation the night sky object was a meteor, Lethbridge's
CFRV radio station was reporting it as an alien invasion of Fort

"If it were an invasion by aliens you'd know it," said Calgary Science
Centre astronomer Allan Dyer. "It was in the northeast sky travelling
from north to south."

Dyer said meteorite pieces falling to Earth can provide information
about the history of the solar system.

Copyright 2001, Calgary Herald

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