Ottawa

Fireball spotted over capital a mystery — for now

Several people say they spotted what's been described as a bright ball of light whizzing across the sky over Ottawa-Gatineau late Sunday night.

Several reports of sphere of light whizzing across sky around 10 p.m. Sunday

Ottawa stargazer and amateur photographer Sandy MacPherson recorded this image at 10:03 p.m. on Sunday Jan. 5 in Carp, Ont. (Submitted by Sandy MacPherson)

Several people say they spotted what's been described as a bright ball of light whizzing across the sky over Ottawa-Gatineau late Sunday night.

Jason Jones and his wife were driving alongside the Gatineau River near Cantley, Que., just north of Gatineau, when they spotted the object.

"The two big things were the diameter and the brightness," Jones said Monday morning. "It was clearly as bright as Venus or the moon … and instead of a pinpoint of light with a tail, it was a sphere with a tail."

Christopher Cordick was driving northbound along Eagleson Road in Ottawa's west end when he saw what he described as a "very vibrant light in the sky descending rapidly." Cordick said the time was around 10:10 p.m. 

"The light of the fireball remained bright until it descended below the tree lines and it left my sight," Cordick told CBC News in an email.

Others in eastern Ontario and western Quebec took to Reddit and Twitter and called CBC Ottawa to share what they saw.

They also turned to the American Meteor Society, which looks into reported meteor or fireball sightings.

Mike Hankey, the society's manager of operations, said there isn't enough information yet to determine what the object was, but noted initial reports were similar in their descriptions of the object's shape and direction.

The first two reports to the American Meteor Society suggested Sunday's object was seen in the same area, where the two 'cones' in this image overlap. (American Meteor Society)

Western University's Meteor Physics Group has a camera in Ottawa that automatically captures and logs potential meteor sightings, but professor Peter Brown said cloud cover Sunday night may have hindered any conclusive recording.

Brown noted the Quadrantids meteor shower peaked a few nights ago and continues to make an appearance in the night sky.

As for an earlier fireball sighting west of Ottawa, Brown said a number of organizations searched for debris near Bancroft, Ont., but he doesn't believe any earthly evidence has been found.

Did you see a ball of light in the sky over Ottawa-Gatineau Sunday night? Let us know, and please send any photos or videos to CBC Ottawa.

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