More on the Nov 20 Canadian Fireball

This is just a quick update on the spectacular fireball seen over Western Canada on evening of November 20.

According to Alan Hildebrand of the University of Calgary, and an expert on meteors and meteorites, the asteroid that caused the fireball had a mass between 1 and 10 tons and may have been as large as a small desk. Objects of this size usually fragment into many smaller pieces while traveling through the atmosphere. Many of these, much smaller, pieces may have survived to hit the ground. If they did, the meteorites will be spread over many hundreds of square miles (or kilometers). Dr. Hildebrand has determined the most likely area to find the meteorites is around Manitou Lake near the town of Macklin, Saskatchewan, about 100 kilometers south of Lloydminster, near the Alberta boundary.

Below is a map of a sighting which were reported to the American Meteor Society (AMS) and are posted on their Fireball Sightings log. A few more sightings were pulled from other sources.

canada_fireball_20081120

I have received a few sighting of this fireball from observers located throughout the United States and Canada. As can be seen from the map above, this particular fireball was only observed from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana. During any one night there are many fireballs seen around the world, though most will be fainter than the Canadian one.

According to the AMS Fireball Sightings Log, at least 5 additional fireballs as bright or brighter than the Moon were observed. Quite a few of these have been reported in the comments section of this blog.

  1. ~5:30 to 6:00 pm CST (Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisana, Texas)
  2. ~7:00 pm EST (Massachusetts)
  3. ~10:30 pm EST (Florida, Georgia)
  4. ~11:45 pm CST (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma)
  5. ~11:00 pm MST (Arizona

The nicest fireball story in the Transient Sky comments section was written by Daisy Moreau about the AL/MS/AR/LA/TX fireball:

“On November 20, 2008, my two grandson and I were watching their helium filled balloon fly away in Alexandria, La.. The time was 5:35 p.m.and the most beautiful comet flew across the sky. It was a bright blue with green and a fire tail of red, orange and yellow. It took out breath away. My youngest grandson Hayden said, “Oh, look, someone is shooting fireworks”. Not believing my eyes, I asked the older grandson, Garrett, “What color was that?”, He said all the primary colors. We have tried to draw and color it but nothing we drew could even come close to the beauty in the sky. When Hayden let his balloon go, we said it was going up to heaven to my mother, their great grandmother, then when we saw the comet we just knew in our hearts that my Mother threw us a star.”

The video and links are carried over from my original posting on the Canadian fireball.

Frame by frame breakdown of the video at the Kingston Centre of Royal Astronomical Society of Canada page.

Large number of reports collected by Bruce McCurdy and posted on the meteorobs Yahoo Groups list.

All-sky camera video from Alister Ling of Edmonton

Dashboard camera video from a peace officier vehicle at Devon AB southwest of Edmonton.

About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

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