Mysterious bright light over Maritimes likely a meteor: experts
Published Tuesday, March 18, 2014 8:16AM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 18, 2014 6:31PM ADT
For the second time in two weeks, Maritimers are sharing stories of a mysterious bright light shooting across the sky.
Sightings of a fireball were reported from Bathurst, N.B. to Nova Scotia’s South Shore early Tuesday morning. People in eastern Quebec also reported a bright light around the same time.
“A number of people have reported that basically they saw a glowing fireball in the sky, different colours from different people - some blues, some greens, some reds - but basically going overhead very quickly and disappearing over the horizon,” says Rob Thacker, an astronomy professor at Saint Mary’s University.
Terry Allen and Seamus Byrne say they spotted the light just outside Moncton. They were on their way home after a snowmobiling trip when the bright light caught their eye.
“I saw it come down and break up into pieces and fall to the ground,” says Allen, who was heading toward Moncton at the time.
“What looked like towards the ground, it was big, it was nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
Byrne was heading in the opposite direction, toward Shediac. He says the fireball came from behind and passed over his head. Then he called his girlfriend to share the story.
“I called her at 5:06, it’s on my phone, and I said ‘I don’t know what I just saw but it was magnificent.”
The light was also captured on a Nova Scotia webcam near the Masstown Market at 5:04 a.m.
Thacker says the light was likely a type of meteor called a bolide. He also says they’re not uncommon.
“Things like this happen fairly regularly. In fact, we had about 3,500 reports of fireballs over North America last year,” says Thacker.
“People get excited about the sky and I think it’s kind of inherent in us. If you look at every culture you can around the world, every culture develops its own theory about the sky and so on. Now we’re much more smart, we know what things are up there, but it’s still fascinating to look up and wonder what’s up there.”
This is the second time in less than two weeks that a large fireball has been spotted over the Maritimes. On March 6, people from Digby, N.S. to Edmundston, N.B. reported a similar sighting.
“It does seem surprising we’ve had two, as far as I know totally unrelated events,” says Robert Hawkes, a physics professor at Mount Allison University. “I don’t think either of these events are related to a meteor shower.”
Hawkes says it’s possible some pieces of the meteor may have made it to earth. Byrne says it felt like the fireball landed right in front of him.
“It came close to the tree line and it just burst into a whole bunch of pieces, as if it would be some sort of firework,” he says.
While meteors are fairly common, they can instill fear in people, due in large part to Hollywood blockbusters.
“Now there’s movies talking about impacts and people are sort of freaked out about that, particularly with the impact in Russia last year,” says Thacker. “That was an amazing event.”
The Chelyabinsk meteor was a near-earth asteroid that entered the Earth’s atmosphere over Russia in February 2013. The incident injured about 1,500 people and was documented by dozens of cameras.
Despite the incident, Thacker says we shouldn’t be too worried about a world-ending asteroid anytime soon.
“People are up there looking for these big things that are going to hit us. The good thing is, I think we’re OK for 100 years or so.”
Let us know if you saw a bright light in the sky this morning. Send videos and photos to MyNews.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jayson Baxter, Jonathan MacInnis