Bright light streaked across sky TuesdayDarrell Bellaart, The Daily News
Rob Gundling watched a bright light streak west over the Nanaimo sky Tuesday, less than a week after a massive meteor lit up the Prairie night.
Scientists say what Gundling saw was a large chunk of cosmic debris burning up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere, similar to the heavenly display that drew eyes skyward from Manitoba through central Alberta Nov. 20.
The sun was still up when Tuesday's fireball appeared, making it only visible to anyone who happened to be looking in that direction at the time.
The remains of a 10-tonne asteroid that exploded in the sky near the Alberta/Saskatchewan border on November 20, 2008, have been located by University of Calgary researchers south of the city of Lloydminster in an area called Buzzard Coulee.
Gundling, who works most afternoons from his Sherwood Forest home office, had just stepped out into his garden when he spotted the bright light flaming across the sky. At first he thought it was a burning aircraft. He watched it move in a straight line from east to west.
"It was, I would say, five or six seconds. You could actually see chunks coming off of it. I've seen falling stars lots of times before but not like this, it was like sparks falling off and it was glowing. At first I thought it was airplane pieces."
A Canadian Air Force Sea King helicopter navigator of 32 years, he made a mental note of the time. It was 4:36 p.m.
The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria had numerous reports of a bright object shooting across the sky at that time.
"It was very likely a meteor," said Katrina Au-Yong, observatory spokeswoman. "We had witnesses in Vancouver and Prince George so it must have been a bright one."
Meteors are usually bits of rock left over from the debris tails of comets that circle around the sun in a different orbit from that of Earth. November is an active time for meteor showers as Earth passes through three major meteorite belts.
Gundling said unlike other meteors he's seen in the past, this one had what appeared to be a smoking tail.
Falling debris and a smoky tail are not entirely uncommon, Au-Yong said.
"That sounds exactly right," she said. "When these things hit the atmosphere there is a lot of friction and they can break up into smaller pieces."
She said based on the brightness of the sighting, during daylight, there is a good chance it was a large meteor.Meteor catches many eyes
Nanaimo Daily News, Canada