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Scientists ask residents in Niagara, Ont., to look for meteor pieces after weekend fireball

A meteorite, one metre in diameter, lit up the southern Ontario sky early Saturday morning earlier than it crash landed into Lake Ontario and alongside the shoreline of Grimsby, Ont., in the Niagara area.

The touchdown now has scientists asking residents to maintain an eye fixed out for the area rocks — which could possibly be billions of years previous. 

The European Space Agency mentioned that is solely the sixth time that a meteor, which turns right into a meteorite because it falls to earth and breaks aside, has been detected properly earlier than impression by international asteroid warning methods. 

The methods have been ready to inform scientists the place and when the asteroid was going to hit. 

The meteorite, labelled object C8FF042 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), hit Lake Ontario round 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

‘Rare incidence in southern Ontario’

People throughout southern Ontario, from Toronto to Brantford, caught sight of the meteorite. Some shared dwelling safety digital camera footage on social media over the weekend of it catching fireplace and lighting up the evening sky.

Others mentioned they heard a loud sound round that point, which researchers CBC spoke to mentioned was a sonic growth, made because the meteorite travelled sooner than the pace of sound.

Peter Brown, a physics professor at Western University in London, Ont., is a member of the Western Meteor Physics Group (WMPG), which research meteors utilizing cameras. 

“We have a community of cameras in southern Ontario and southern Quebec and the community is continually watching the evening sky,” he mentioned, including that his meteor watching group has about 20 cameras skilled on the sky. 

Brown mentioned WMPG’s aim is to seize footage of “vivid meteors that produce fireballs,” just like the one which landed in Lake Ontario over the weekend. 

He mentioned WMPG captured the meteor on 12 of their cameras, and that it was as “vivid because the moon” and will have been seen throughout most of southern Ontario, in locations the place the clouds did not block it from view. 

Brown mentioned his group detects “a number of pretty vivid meteors an evening,” however mentioned objects of this dimension — which is what creates the fireball — solely hit the earth a number of instances per week and are not often documented in southern Ontario, he mentioned.

“The fireball was solely seen in southern Ontario, however there was a international community of telescopes and observers who have been ready to observe the thing because it got here in,” he mentioned, including that the community of telescopes monitoring the meteor from all over the world will assist advance meteor monitoring science. 

“We’re hoping individuals will… begin wanting for these rocks. Scientists are very in having the ability to get samples of these rocks,” he mentioned. 

Rocks from area are ‘frozen in time’ and ‘necessary’

Kim Tait is the mineralogy, meteorite and gem curator on the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and a former Hamilton resident. 

Tait mentioned she encourages individuals residing close to the place the meteor hit in Niagara to maintain an eye fixed out for pieces of area rock, and think about donating their discoveries to the ROM, for Tait and her workforce to examine. 

“A lot of the rocks from area are 4 1/2 billion years previous,” she mentioned. 

“On Earth we now have such a dynamic planet that’s recycling itself on a regular basis, that has wind and rain and all these totally different options that change the rocks. But these [meteor] rocks are frozen in time from very early a part of our photo voltaic system,” Tait mentioned. 

Residents of the Virgil, McNab and Port Weller areas of Niagara ought to maintain an eye fixed out for pieces of the meteor, which fell early Saturday morning. Researchers say rock hunters can inform if it is a piece of the meteor by its weight, color and magnetism. (Western Meteor Physics Group/CBC News Graphics)

Brown mentioned rock hunters can inform if it is a piece of the meteor by its weight, color and magnetism. 

“Meteorites are are sometimes fairly heavy for their dimension. They’re excessive density, they’re magnetic normally, so a magnet will normally stick to them,” he mentioned. 

“They usually have an outer crust that is black, similar to the black crust from a spacecraft that is coming by means of the environment. The reentry form of melts the outer a part of the meteorite.”

Brown mentioned in explicit residents of the Virgil, McNab and Port Weller areas of Niagara ought to maintain an eye fixed out for pieces of the meteor. 

“Unfortunately it was a snowy weekend and issues bought buried fairly shortly,” Tait mentioned. 

“If everyone can have a little bit look out into the properties across the lake that might be wonderful.”

A small black rock.
Meteorites usually have an outer crust that is black, researchers say. This one was gifted to the Royal Ontario Museum after falling over Saskatchewan in 2008. It weighs 34.9 grams. (Submitted by Royal Ontario Museum )

Tait mentioned whoever finds the pieces of the meteor can determine whether or not they need to maintain it or donate it to the ROM, however she hopes they may not less than contact the museum’s pure historical past division to have a scientist come and assess the rocks. 

“In some circumstances individuals do like to to maintain them and I fully respect [that] and perceive,” she mentioned. 

“But each single time we open up one, there’s something new to be found. So I feel each rock from area is actually necessary.”

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