A meteor has been spotted in the skies above Ontario on Tuesday night, at about 9 p.m., looking like a fireball.
The meteor, which glowed above the north region of Goderich, Ontario, was observed from hundreds of kilometers around, with the American Meteor Society receiving more than 30 reports from different locations surrounding southern Ontario and southern Michigan, and more.
The Kintail Fireball’s Trajectory
As per Dr. Peter Brown, from the University of Western Ontario’s Meteor Group, the space object that generated this fireball was probably the size of a softball, approximately 10 centimeters (3 inches) in diameter, and weighing about 10 kilograms. The meteor was allegedly moving at around 15 kilometers (9 miles) per second.
Dr. Brown posted on Twitter: “Yet another capture of the Kintail fireball, this time with an experimental meteor camera system near Tavistock, ON, based on https://t.co/JMV1A8Nciu.”
The fireball traveled about 80 kilometers (49 miles) above the ground and was last seen over the Lake Huron, in the west of Kintail. Based on the trajectory it had, Dr. Brown was able to find the meteoroid’s cause in the asteroid belt beyond Mars.
“Kintail fireball orbit from last night place origins firmly from the asteroid belt. The initial mass was somewhere between a few to ten kilograms – softball-sized. Not quite as bright as the full moon,” Dr. Brown said.
Considering the speed of this particular space object as well as the height where the fireball reached an end, Dr. Brown said that small meteorites might have appeared from this occurrence. However, since the endpoint of the object was above the water, any meteorites that might have appeared, are now at the bottom of Lake Huron.
Flashes of Light in the Sky
Meteors are glimpses of light occurring from the flyby of a meteoroid from space, which is traveling at high velocity through the atmosphere. As the space object, be it a speck of dust, an ice crystal, or a piece of rock or icon, moves through the air, it presses the air molecules found in its trajectory, making them heat up until they shine.
Yet another capture of the Kintail fireball, this time with an experimental meteor camera system near Tavistock, ON based on https://t.co/JMV1A8Nciu @westernu @IMOmeteors @amsmeteors #fireball #toomanymeteorcameras pic.twitter.com/ZVtQ3aOqd0
— Peter Brown (@pgbrown) January 23, 2020
Any meteor flash that is sufficiently bright to match the glow of Venus is usually called a ‘fireball.’ If the fireball comes with an abrupt, powerful flash because of the meteoroid slitting up, it is typically dubbed a ‘bolide.’
Even though the majority of meteor cameras only capture them in black and white, two different cameras that spotted the Kintail meteor were able to capture colors as the object traveled the skies. The meteor camera at Elginfield Observatory managed to photograph the meteor changing colors from red to white to blue and then back to red.
As per Dr. Brown, it is possible to assess the composition of a meteoroid when considering the color of the meteor flash it generates. Even so, the meteor color can also be affected by the flow of air surrounding the meteoroid, the velocity at which it was flying, and even the way the space object split up.
Therefore, without actually getting a hand on some pieces of it, there is no way of telling what exactly is causing the colors displayed.