Falling meteor causes fireball, flash of light over parts of Ontario
An apparent meteor is captured using a Geostationary Lightning Mapper on Dec. 2, 2020. (Provided by Dr. Denis Vida)
Published Wednesday, December 2, 2020 5:08PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 3, 2020 12:28PM EST
A meteor travelling an estimated 100,000 kilometers an hour is believed to have fallen into the earth’s atmosphere on Wednesday afternoon, resulting in multiple reports of a bright flash of light above Toronto and some streaks of fire in the sky across southern Ontario.
Around noon, a number of GTA residents reported seeing a fireball trail across the sky while others said they saw a large flash of nearly blinding light.
According to Dr. Denis Vida, a postdoctoral associate with the University of Western Ontario in their physics and astronomy department, a basket-ball sized meteor is believed to have entered the earth’s atmosphere at a 45-degree angle about 50 kilometers north of Syracuse, New York.
“We’re still waiting for the data to come in, but we think that the rough size of the object was probably in the order of 10 centimeters. And there's still a lot of uncertainty.”
Vida said that it’s still too early to know if some pieces of the meteor made it to the ground or if the rock completely disintegrated upon entry. He said the large flash of light seen primarily over Syracuse would have been the result of the meteor being fragmented by the earth’s atmosphere.
“The flash was probably about 10 times brighter than the moon, the full moon,” he said. “At that moment the body either completely disintegrated or lost a lot of mass.”
As of 5 p.m., more than 80 reports were made to the American Meteor Society regarding a fireball seen on Dec. 2.
Those in the United States appeared to hear an audible boom following the event, Vida said.
“Someone called me and said that their house shook so much that they thought a tree fell on the house.”
Vida said that it’s not uncommon for meteors to enter the earth’s atmosphere and that people witness the event generally about once a month on a global scale.
“But locally. It's much rarer.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included video from the CN Tower’s EarthCam which reportedly showed the fireball streaking across the sky.
Vida told CTV News Toronto on Thursday that after reviewing the footage himself, it appears the flash of light was the result of a camera adjustment that happened to occur at approximately the same time.
He said the meteor was likely not bright enough to create such a big flash of light.