Astronomers capture spectacular meteor footage and images (w/ Video)

October 7, 2009
SOMN Fireball event of September 25, 2009. Image: UWO

(PhysOrg.com) -- Astronomers from The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada have released footage of a meteor that was approximately 100 times brighter than a full moon. The meteor lit up the skies of southern Ontario two weeks ago and Western astronomers are now hoping to enlist the help of local residents in recovering one or more possible meteorites that may have crashed in the area of Grimsby, Ontario.

The Physics and Astronomy Department at Western has a network of all-sky cameras in southern Ontario that scan the monitoring for meteors. Associate Professor Peter Brown, who specializes in the study of and meteorites, says that on Friday, September 25 at 9:03 p.m. EST seven all-sky cameras of Western's Southern Ontario Meteor Network (SOMN) recorded a brilliant fireball in the evening sky over the west end of Lake Ontario.

Brown along with Phil McCausland, a postdoctoral fellow at Western's Centre for & Exploration, are now working to get the word out amongst interested people who may be willing to see if they can spot any fallen meteorites.

The video will load shortly
SOMN Fireball event of September 25, 2009

"This particular fall, if any are found, is very important because its arrival was so well recorded. We have good camera records as well as radar and infrasound detections of the event, so that it will be possible to determine its orbit prior to collision with the Earth and to determine the energy of the fireball event," says McCausland. "We can also figure out where it came from and how it got here, which is rare. In all of history, only about a dozen meteorite falls have that kind of record."

The fireball was first detected by Western's camera systems at an altitude of 100 km over Guelph moving southeastwards at 20.8 km/s. The meteoroid was initially the size of a child's tricycle. Analysis of the all-sky camera records as well as data from Western's meteor radar and infrasound equipment indicates that this bright fireball was large enough to have dropped meteorites in a region south of Grimsby on the Niagara Peninsula, providing masses that may total as much as several kilograms.

Researchers at Western are interested in hearing from anyone within 10 km of Grimsby who may have witnessed or recorded this event, seen or heard unusual events at the time, or who may have found possible fragments of the freshly fallen meteorite.

According to McCausland, meteorites are of great scientific value. He also points out that in Canada meteorites belong to the owner of the land upon which they are discovered. If individuals intend to search they should, in all cases, obtain the permission of the land owner before searching on private land.

Meteorites may best be recognized by their dark and scalloped exterior, and are usually denser than normal rock and will often attract a fridge magnet due to their metal content. In this fall, meteorites may be found in a small hole produced by their dropping into soil. Meteorites are not dangerous, but any recovered meteorites should be placed in a clean plastic bag or container and be handled as little as possible to preserve their scientific information.

More information: For video footage, still images and site maps, please visit http://aquarid.physics.uwo.ca/research/fireball/events/25sept2009/

Source: University of Western Ontario

Explore further: University of Western Ontario cameras capture 'fireball'

Related Stories

University of Western Ontario cameras capture 'fireball'

October 24, 2008

For the second time this year, The University of Western Ontario Meteor Group has captured incredibly rare video footage of a meteor falling to Earth. The team of astronomers suspects the fireball dropped meteorites in a ...

Manitoba meteorite hunter scores again

July 18, 2005

A new meteorite identified by the Prairie Meteorite Search is posing a mystery about why so many meteorites have been found in eastern Manitoba, and has set a new Canadian record for the man behind the latest out-of-this-world ...

Meteorite bounty on track for Canadian record

December 22, 2008

A University of Calgary-organized team recovered more than one hundred meteorites from the November 20 meteorite fall southwest of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan/Alberta, which is expected to set a new Canadian record for the ...

Recommended for you

Hubble catches a transformation in the Virgo constellation

December 9, 2016

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of ...

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

December 9, 2016

As a cosmic dust magnet, Saturn's C ring gives away its youth. Once thought formed in an older, primordial era, the ring may be but a mere babe – less than 100 million years old, according to Cornell-led astronomers in ...

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

December 9, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.