[meteorite-list] Fiery Ball Over Canada Presents Puzzle

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2007 16:09:46 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <200704192309.l3JN9kF16815_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


... or maybe it was space junk: fiery ball presents puzzle
Michael Purvis
The Sault Star (Canada)
April 19, 2007

It wasn't a bird, and it sure wasn't a plane.

In fact, Dave Gough isn't quite certain exactly what he saw streak
through the sky above the Churchill Plaza around 11 a.m. Thursday morning.

"I saw a fiery ball fly through the sky from east to west," said Gough, 54.

Local astronomy experts say it could have been anything from a meteor to
a piece of space junk.

It is possible to see meteors in broad daylight, said Klaus Peltsch, an
adjunct professor of astronomy at Algoma University College, and
president of the Twin Saults Astronomy Club.

"There have been many recorded examples of daytime meteors," said
Peltsch. "It's unusual though, so the question would be did anyone else
see it to corroborate the fact that the event did occur."

April 16 to 25 is the peak of a shower of Lyrid meteors, making it
possible that's what Gough saw, said John Shibley, a contributing editor
to Astronomy Magazine who works in Lake Superior State University's
communications department in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The mostly tiny meteors are debris left over from Comet Thatcher, which
the earth passes through once a year.

"This comet leaves junk along its orbit and the earth passes through
where the comet has been," said Shibley. "It's like a car driving
through a flock of bugs and they hit your window, same thing."

The vast majority of these meteors are the size of a grain of sand. In
order for someone to spot one during the day, "it has to be big," said

Shibley said another explanation is that it was a spent rocket booster
or piece of space junk burning up as its orbit decays.

He said spent rocket boosters are "quite spectacular to see," leaving
sparkles in their trail as they shatter on the earth's atmosphere.

"If he didn't see a lot of streamers and sparkles going behind it, it
may not have been a piece of space junk," said Shibley.

City police received "no calls whatsoever of a fiery red ball," said
Sgt. Lisa Kenopic.
Received on Thu 19 Apr 2007 07:09:46 PM PDT

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