Fireball explodes over Western Canada creating sonic boom in night, onlookers say
A fireball exploded in the dark over western Canada, and videos show the meteor was close to the ground when it lit up the sky like lightning.
Witnesses report they also heard it, prompting some to confuse the fireball for an explosion.
The American Meteor Society reports the fireball was moving south over Saskatchewan and Alberta when its flames began appearing in the sky around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, March 18.
Nine witness had filed reports as of March 21, including three who submitted doorbell videos.
“Driving home from a late night. ... All of a sudden see a bright orange objects falling from the sky,” an Edmonton woman wrote.
“I do not think it was a meteor,” a man in Vera, Saskatchewan, posted. “It was more like an explosion that lit up the sky ... from the center outwards.”
“Sonic boom like thunder nearby. Ba ba boom sound, 30 seconds after flash,” a man in Swanson, Saskatchewan, said.
Videos show the fireball was nearing treetops on the horizon when it exploded. The resulting flash of light resembled a full moon for a brief time.
No one has reported finding fragments of the meteorite.
Fireballs are defined as “a very bright meteor” and those that explode are known as a bolide, the American Meteor Society says. They enter the atmosphere at speeds of 25,000 mph to 160,000 mph, and colors depend on “the dominant composition” of the meteoroid, experts say.
“The velocity of the meteor also plays an important role, since a higher level of kinetic energy will intensify certain colors compared to others,” the society reports.
“Among fainter objects, it seems to be reported that slow meteors are red or orange, while fast meteors frequently have a blue color.”
Sounds made by fireballs tend to travel slowly — “at only about 20 km per minute.”
“It will generally be 1.5 to 4 minutes after the visual explosion before any sonic boom can be heard,” the society reports. “Observers who witness such spectacular events are encouraged to listen for a full 5 minutes after the fireball for potential sonic booms.”
Satellite shows ocean sparked as nor’easter formed off North Carolina’s Outer Banks
Odd asteroid as big as Empire State Building passes Earth. Here’s why NASA tracked it
‘Worst-case scenario’ dodged by 19 feet in near collision of big space debris, lab says