Over the weekend, a huge fireball lit up the sky in parts of the United States and Canada.
The Minor Planet Center reported that a “fast moving object” impacted the Earth’s atmosphere at 3:27 a.m. over Brantford, Ontario on Saturday.
It struck “in the skies above Niagara Falls” and transitioned to “a safe fireball,” according to the European Space Agency. This incident marked the 6th time in history that an object in space’s impact was predicted before it happened.
According to NASA, a fireball is regarded as “an unusually bright meteor.” Most meteors are only the size of tiny pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant.
The space object received the temporary designation #C8FF042 from the ESA. Mount Lemmon Survey near Tucson, Arizona first recorded the object in images, according to The Minor Planet Center.
The American Meteor Society said it received 59 reports about the fireball. It was spotted flying over parts of southern Canada and states like New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and Indiana.
According to CTV News, it was even photographed in Toronto by Earth Cam’s “Tower View” camera.
Many around Hamilton also reported hearing a loud boom, according to CTV News and The New York Times.
Operations Manager at the American Meteor Society Mike Hankey spoke with the Times. He said that “there is a chance” that some “recoverable” meteorites could be found “near Grimsby, Ontario, or St. Catharines, Ontario, near the Niagara Falls area” in Canada.
“When these things happen, the astronomy community wants to know where the impact took place and, if meteorites survived, they want to recover them as soon as possible,” Hankey told the outlet.
This Fireball Only Sixth Ever Predicted Before Impact
Saturday’s meteor spotting took place amid the Northern Taurids meteor shower. This has been active since Oct. 13, according to EarthSky.org.
While this is only the sixth time the event has been predicted, the ESA said the capability to predict these events “is rapidly improving.”
Five other asteroids have been located prior to impact since 2008. One fell down earlier this year, according to a previous press release from the agency.
New technology has allowed scientists to get a better look at the objects approaching Earth from space. Additional “sky scanning telescopes” are being developed as well. The ESA calls the “first state-of-the-art Flyeye telescope,” which will split images into 16 “subimages” to widen its field of vision.
Detlef Koschny is ESA’s acting Head of Planetary Defense. He said the new telescopes will give experts the ability to scour “a large area of the sky in just one night.”
“This will reduce the chance that we miss any interesting object,” Koschny said in March’s release, following the fifth-predicted meteor impact. That fifth incident was the last one before this one.