Saskatoon

20,000-year-old Taurid meteor puts on a show in Saskatchewan

University of Saskatchewan astronomer Stan Shadick has some background info on Sunday night's meteor sighting.

Says more fireballs could be visible Nov. 11

A Taurid meteor lit up the skies over Ralph, Sask., on Sunday night. (Bill Allen/Twitter)

Among the many spectacles lighting Saskatchewan's active prairie skies, one recent item is at least 20,000 years old: a Taurid meteor. 

The burst of light was seen by many lighting up the skies on Sunday night, captured and shared by prairie-dwellers on social media. 

On Monday morning, University of Saskatchewan astronomer Stan Shadick joined Leisha Grebinski on Saskatoon Morning to talk about the event. 

He noted that the meteor is "remnants of a huge comet that astronomers estimate broke up 20,000 or 30,000 years ago."

Some of the debris from that massive comet still orbits the sun every few years, and carries with it a large debris field, of which the Taurid meteor shower is a part, according to Shadick.

"There's two: a north Taurid and a south Taurid [meteor shower]. We had the peak of one shower a few days ago, and there's another one coming up on Nov. 11," which means the next few nights present another chance for sky-gazers to catch a glimpse of a meteor, he said.

Shadick also noted that this meteor shower is rather unspectacular because it's sparse, when compared with others. "Only about five [meteors] per hour."

But, he said the shower stands out of because "there's a high percentage of very very bright meteors in it," like the one that lit up skies last night.

Shadick urged anyone with video footage or photos of last night's event to share it with a project underway at the University of Western Ontario.

Phillip McCausland is a researcher there who's trying to track the orbital path of the meteor. Shadick said McCausland's email address is pmmccausland@uwo.ca 

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