Planetarium director explains the fireball that lit the Manitoba sky


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This article has been published 4/1/2018 (1325 days ago), the information it contains may therefore no longer be up to date.

A fireball that lit up the night sky in southern Manitoba on Wednesday night was a rogue meteor, not part of a larger meteor shower.

“This is not the Quadrantids, the typical annual meteor shower. That flash of light was a single, much larger object that arrived on the same date,” said Scott Young, director of the Manitoba Museum’s planetarium. .

The brilliant blue-green light also lit up social media, with posts and videos on Facebook and Twitter confirming dozens of sightings from Manitoba, Ontario, Wisconsin and Minnesota all the way south to Minneapolis.

Thursday morning, the professionals were busy following the reports.

“If you saw the fireball last night, go to and click on the ‘Report a fireball’ link. This is where all reports are collected,” the response said. automatic email from Young. The IMO site is managed by the International Meteor Organization.

Eric Courchene, a resident of Sagkeeng First Nation, was driving along Highway 11, which follows the course of the Winnipeg River and crosses Pine Falls, when he and his wife saw the lightning.

“I think it was around 9:30 pm, I saw the tail light and it exploded. It lit up the whole sky, blue. Blue and then the center was pretty much a bright white light. It went on, holy smoke, it was at least 10 seconds, ”Courchene said.

If astronomers and geologists were looking for pieces after the fireball – known as the bolide – exploded, it would be pieces of rock that fell to earth, Young said.

“By the time the rock hits the ground it has cooled down. It stops burning several miles above the surface and the temperature is around -50 up there,” he said.

Robert Perrault captures this falling meteor with his security camera at his home in Fort Frances, Ont., Wednesday night. The meteor was visible from Winnipeg.



Robert Perrault captured the free-falling meteor with his security camera at his home in Fort Frances, Ont., On Wednesday night. The meteor was visible from Winnipeg.

“So it would be just a black boulder, maybe lying on the snow, but maybe piercing the snow and looking like a hole. Probably small pieces, yes. Smaller than a golf ball, until dust.”

The location of the debris is an enigma.

“Everyone thinks he just fell ‘behind those trees’, or whatever, when he’s actually tens of miles away. It’s something about the way our brains process. bright lights on a dark background that makes it look closer, ”Young said.

Many have associated the appearance of the Quadrantids this year with the super moon on Tuesday night as twin shows in the night sky, leading to some confusion as to whether Wednesday’s meteorite was simply part of the meteor shower. .

The fireball arc was captured north of Winnipeg, east to Ontario, and south across several states in the United States, including North Dakota and Minnesota.

“We were lucky that this happened when the skies were clear and dark. These bright fireballs happen once a day or so somewhere in the world, but they often go unnoticed because they happen. above the ocean or above the clouds, “said the youngster.

Social media started talking about the fireball almost immediately with posts to Facebook and Twitter.

“Ken and I were out for a walk last night at this time (9:22 pm) and we saw this meteor,” a Winnipeg resident reported on Facebook.

“There was a bright flash that lit up the area around us. There was a huge fireball with an orange tail. Amazing sight! Did anyone else see a flash or actually saw the meteor? Pretty cool! ” Lisa Kroker said.

A video posted to Twitter captured a green lightning bolt, like sheet lightning. He illuminated a pair of cabins in a wooded glade near Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota.

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Arline J. Mercier

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