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Updated: Fri, 21 Mar 2014 11:37:45 GMT | By The Canadian Press, cbc.ca

Meteorite search in St. Thomas, Ont., seeks public's help



Composite all-sky camera image of fireball as seen from Aylmer, Ontario. Western University, the Physics and Astronomy Department

Composite all-sky camera image of fireball as seen from Aylmer, Ontario. Western University, the Physics and Astronomy Department

Astronomers from a southwestern Ontario university are seeking the public's help to find meteorites that may have crashed near St. Thomas, Ont.

Researchers from Western University say a basketball-sized meteor that was almost as bright as the full moon lit up the skies of southwestern Ontario this week.

Western astronomers are now hoping for help from local residents in recovering one or more possible meteorites that may have crashed just north of St. Thomas. They are holding a news conference with NASA at 11 a.m. ET Friday to provide more information.

Western's faculty of science has a network of all-sky cameras in southern Ontario that scan the atmosphere monitoring for meteors.

Peter Brown, who specializes in the study of meteors and meteorites, says that on the evening of March 18 a long-lasting fireball was detected by seven all-sky cameras.

The brilliant fireball started near Port Dover, Ont., at a height of 75 kilometres and moved westward before ending at an altitude of 32 kilometres between Aylmer, Ont., and St. Thomas. One or more meteorites were produced by the slow fireball based on the video records from the cameras.

Researchers are interested in hearing from anyone approximately five kilometres north or northwest of St. Thomas, who may have witnessed or recorded the event, or who may have found possible fragments of the freshly fallen meteorite.

In Canada, meteorites belong to the owner of the land upon which they are discovered.

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.

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