Meteor shoots across Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick night sky
Skywatchers in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine also reported seeing fireball
Skywatchers across Eastern Canada and the U.S. spotted an unexpected treat last night, as a meteor streaked across the sky.
The phenomenon was captured by a camera atop Quebec's Mont-Mégantic provincial park, about 80 kilometres east of Sherbrooke, Que., around 9:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Sébastien Giguère, scientific co-ordinator at the Mont-Mégantic Astrolab, confirmed Thursday morning that the fireball was indeed a meteor.
A meteor, also called a shooting star, is the light emitted from a meteoroid or an asteroid as it enters the atmosphere.
Meteors like ones seen during Perseid meteor showers are caused by particles that are the same size as a grain of sand or rice, Giguère explained. The bigger the particle, the bigger the meteor.
Last night's meteor was probably caused by something the size of a big rock, Giguère said.
"Hundreds of tonnes of meteorites fall through the sky every day," he said on Radio-Canada's C'est pas trop tôt. "But yesterday, it was nice out and [the meteor] was centred on southern Quebec. That happens once every one or two years, so it's not totally rare, but it doesn't happen every day."
Vicky Boldo, a resident of Sainte-Catherine-de-Hatley Que., said she saw the "spectacular sight" while sitting in her hot tub last night.
"It passed directly over us and lit the yard up like a football field — it seemed to be just up over our heads beyond the trees," she said in an email.
Seen far and wide
The meteor was mainly spotted by people in southern Quebec, but Ontario, New York, Vermont, New Brunswick, Massachusetts, and Maine residents also saw it.
The American Meteor Society has received more than 120 reports about the shooting star.
The reason it was seen by so many people is because of the height where it occurred, Giguère said. The higher the point where stone enters the atmosphere, the more people who see it.
And the people who see them play an important role. Reports of what they saw help scientists determine the meteor's path. Giguère said it seems it travelled from east to west.
Giguère said he believes the stone disintegrated before it hit the ground. Fragments of meteoroids or asteroids that hit the ground are called meteorites.
Shooting stars are a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of event. If it lasts a second, that's long, Giguère explained.
"It goes so fast, you practically don't have time to make a wish," he said.
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