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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Mar > Mar 26

Spectacular Fireball Likely A Meteor

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2004 17:14:52 -0800
Fwd Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 07:35:04 -0500
Subject: Spectacular Fireball Likely A Meteor

Source: Fort Frances Times - Ontario


March 23, 2004

Spectacular fireball likely a meteor

By The Canadian Press

A spectacular fireball that blazed across Prairie skies and
parts of Ontario was probably a grapefruit-sized meteor,
astronomers said yesterday.

"I hope someone caught it on video," said Scott Young with the
Manitoba Museum. "It was brighter than normal, which means it
was about the size of a grapefruit."

It was not a satellite, part of a rocket, or other human-made
space debris, confirmed Capt. Dave Muralt of 17 Wing at CFB
Moose Jaw, Sask.

He checked yesterday with NORAD in Colorado, which tracks
orbiting material returning to earth. Officials there told him
it wasn't theirs.

Chris Rutkowski, an unidentified flying object expert in
Winnipeg, said "a good chunk of Canada saw this thing."

He said there were reports Sunday of sightings from Edmonton to
Ottawa and into North Dakota.

Because so many people saw the fireball, chances are it was very
high up, said Rutkowski, who was speaking on behalf of Ufology
Research of Manitoba.

"I get the idea it was a bright... large fragmented meteor
that's starting to break up and leaving a large tail."

Rutkowski doubted there was anything left to reach the ground,
but the possibility had astronomers excited.

It's rare, though, to find a meteor has reached the ground to
become what is then called a meteorite, said Martin Beech, an
astronomy professor at the University of Regina.

Most burn up in the atmosphere, briefly illuminated, and are
known to earthlings as shooting stars.

On Sunday, some people reported they felt a sonic boom while
others reported a strange smell and felt vibrations when they
saw the fireball.

That means the meteor was probably low in the Earth's
atmosphere, possibly as low as five km, said Richard Huziak,
president of the Saskatoon Centre of the Royal Astronomical
Society of Canada.

The smell=97similar to ozone=97resulted from the meteor ionizing the
oxygen in the lower atmosphere, he explained.

"If it's getting that far down, there's a good chance material
might have survived to land on the ground," Beech said.

Fireballs enter the atmosphere about 140 km from Earth and
usually burn out about 70 km away.

If anyone along the meteor's path finds an odd rock, there are
tell-tale characteristics to look for, such as a shiny jet-black
surface and magnetic properties, Beech said.

"The recovery conditions right now are perfect. The ground is
still fairly hard and there's snow about, so these black rocks
tend to stand out like a sore thumb."

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