Friday, November 21, 2008
Mars Invades Alberta
"Across two hundred million miles of void, invisibly hurtling towards us, came the first of the missiles that were to bring so much calamity to Earth..."
Reports of meteor streaking across Prairies
A bright light lit up the sky around 5:30 MT Thursday evening in Western Canada, with people reporting sightings in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
People telephoned the CBC newsrooms in Edmonton and Calgary to talk about what they saw.
"It was a really big flash, lit up the sky, and there was this huge, flaming fireball falling from the sky," said Rowyn Windsor, 12, who lives on the Canadian Forces base in Cold Lake, Alta., about 350 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
"This huge light in our kitchen window lit up our whole kitchen," said Sabrina Schneider, who lives just outside Lloydminster on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. "It kinda flashed a couple of times. It was really bright. It was a different light than lightning.
"We weren't really sure what happened ... got up to look out the window, and all of a sudden, we heard this rumbling."
Schneider said her sister saw the meteor while she was driving past North Battleford, Sask.
Torey Van Vam was driving north from Redcliff, Alta., outside Medicine Hat when he saw a bright white streak.
"As it got closer to the ground, it was more visible as a ball of white light with green around it. And as it got really close to the ground, it turned kind of orange, and I'm pretty sure it went straight to the ground," he said.
Bev Ully, who lives on a farm near Unity, Sask., was watching TV when she saw a light through her west-facing living room window.
"It was just like there were headlights right outside the window and that something was moving. It wasn't just one big, bright flash. It was several flashes," she said.
Ully said her daughter in Brooks, in central Alberta, had told her she had seen the light as well.
The fireball was also visible in Edmonton. Kim Wingrove was driving in the city's west end when he saw something in the sky.
"I saw this large orb shoot across in an east-southeast direction, on a very steady trajectory," he said. "It was very, very big. And I've seen a lot of shooting stars from all the world as I travelled, but I've never seen one so large. It was very bright yellow, with hints of green in it. It stayed in the air ... for about two to two and a half seconds."
Alister Ling, an Edmonton-area amateur astronomer who is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, recorded the fireball using equipment from Alan Hildebrand, a meteorite researcher at the University of Calgary.
"When it flares out on the tape, you can see there's several of these multiple flashes, and that's when it's probably partly blowing up, which is also a really good indicator ... that there's multiple stones that have come down," he said.
He said anyone who sees a fireball with their own eyes has a hard time judging where it came down, because fireballs stop glowing when they are 50 kilometres above the earth.
Ling said he will be consulting with other astronomers in Alberta, who will look at tapes from a local network of cameras and assess eyewitness reports to try and figure out where the fireball may have landed.
Although its early in the process, he thinks it may have fallen somewhere in central Alberta, and there could be search parties out looking for chunks as early as this weekend.
"Who knows," he said. "We might be really, really lucky."
Yah, wait until the lid of the Cylinder unscrews...