Breaking: Canadian fireball fragments found

By Phil Plait | November 28, 2008 9:29 am

Reports are coming in that fragments have been found from the bright meteor that lit up Canadian skies last week. I don’t have much info, but this is good news. The object that came in must have weighed several tons, so there should be plenty of meteorites to be found. This is very cool, obviously because it’s always good to get new samples. But also, the path of this object is very well observed from all the videos taken, and that means its orbit can be determined. This gives scientists a pretty good handle on the object itself, and may give more clues about Earth-crossing asteroids, the kind that smack into us like this one did. And it’s always good to know more about them!

Tip o’ the Whipple Shield to BABloggees Michael Lonergan and AJ Milne.

Comments (36)

  1. Gary Ansorge

    Yummping yimminy Batman, a ten ton FRAGMENT of an asteroid? I wonder how big the main rock was??? and where is it now???

    If it came in from above the ecliptic, that might be the best place for me to point my new 8 inch reflector,,,

    GAry 7

  2. Ryan

    Frak, I want a piece!!

  3. mighty favog

    The first article I read said the object was probably the size of a desk. Then I was reading that it was only the size of a grapefruit. Now it’s several tons…where is this info coming from? Is there a definitive source?

  4. Jon

    Did they recover any aliens from the crash site? ;)

  5. BOB

    I live in Winnipeg which is a few hundred miles East of where this fireball was seen.

    I also saw a bright streak in the sky that night which lasted a few seconds before exploding with a flash but I think that it was an hour or two after this one and I don’t know if Winnipeg would be close enough to see any of this. It wasn’t really that big or bright, just enough to catch my eye.

    It was fairly high in the sky traveling almost parallel with the horizon and heading almost due West.

    Was it a random event or could it have been related to the Big One?

    - BOB

  6. Mang

    These articles were talking about different things.

    The size of a desk and 10 ton references refer to the entire bolide.

    The size of a grapefruit was an early educated guess about the (total) size of the piece/pieces that would reach the ground.

    The initial quoted estimates of the speed were high too. One article reported 60 km/s which seemed about 2-4x higher than I would have expected. I believe they are now estimating 10-15km/s.

    The articles say it’s pieces have come down somewhere along the Yellowhead highway (#16) between Lloydminster which stradles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border and North Battleford Sask. (about 100km east).

    http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=&ie=UTF8&ll=53.072577,-109.011841&spn=1.165024,2.801514&t=h&z=9

    BTW it’s on the edge of nowhere. The middle of nowhere is somewhere NE of there.

    I wish they’d publish the track and estimated orbit.

  7. –WANT!–
    Can’t afford, but WANT!

  8. I live in an apartment. If a meteorite crashes through my window, do I own it? Or does my landlord?

    These are the things I think about when reading these stories.

  9. A cubic meter of water weighs one ton. Stone is roughly twice the density of water, and iron 10x. So an iron meteoroid just over two yards/meters on a side would weigh ten tons.

  10. Austin

    I think you need to check your math, Dr. P.

  11. @BOB:
    Two pilots flying from Winnipeg to The Pas, in Northern Manitoba reported seeing the fireball. However they were at 35,000 feet, so what you saw may have been unrelated, or not…

  12. gopher65

    Sweet! My grandma lives in North Battleford. I should phone her up and tell her to get her hinny outside and start meteorite hunting:).

  13. Mang

    @BOB

    The time is right because 5:30pm in Alberta it would have been 6:30pm in the Peg.

    I’ve heard that it was seen in Montana and North Dakota which aren’t as far. Lloydminster is about 1000km from the Peg which would seem to be a bit on the far side. It really depends on how high the thing was.

  14. llewelly

    The first article I read said the object was probably the size of a desk. Then I was reading that it was only the size of a grapefruit. Now it’s several tons…where is this info coming from? Is there a definitive source?

    Imagine how excited we’d all be if it was the size of a grapefruit and yet massed ten tonnes.

  15. kuhnigget

    And now the cover-up begins! (snork!)

  16. J. D. Mack

    As I posted in the comments for the first article about the fireball, I saw what might have been a piece of this rock streak across the sky in Port Canaveral a few hours after the fireball was seen in Canada. It was bright blue and caused everyone around me to gasp. Surely someone at NASA would have seen it. Any reports from there?

    J. D.

  17. Craig

    @The Chemist: FINDERS KEEPERS!
    You have a contract to be the exclusive inhabitant of that space, and since it wound up in your space, from space, it’s your place so you could get onto cyberspace with photos of the place along with the meteorite and your face!

    I think the landlord would wonder more about whether or not insurance would pay for the damage from space on his place.

    :X

  18. Mang

    @JD Mack If you mean Port Canaveral Fla, it can’t be the same rock. That’s over 4000km. You’d be hard pressed to see a object 1500km above the earth at that distance.

    I think I recall seeing a comment somewhere from a lady in the south who claimed to see it. Louisiana if I recall.

    Maybe it had a cousin?

  19. Mang

    @JD Mack – Mind you if it had a smaller cousin I would have expected more than two reports about it.

  20. More details are coming up… see The Edmonton Journal

  21. Jamie

    Here is a link that shows a picture of one of the fragments:

    http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Alberta/2008/11/28/7571236.html

    Cool Beans.

  22. Matt

    If the origional meteor was a leonid (from a comet) it was composed of mostly frozen gases with metal and silicon. Once the ice melted the rest came down in chunks. If this meteor had entered the atmosphere 30 or 40 km farther north it might have dropped chunks in my back yard. I would hope for a $12000 one, and no casualties.

  23. zaardvark

    I live in an apartment. If a meteorite crashes through my window, do I own it? Or does my landlord?

    These are the things I think about when reading these stories.

    I don’t know, but I bet if it landed in you, it would definitely be yours — so hope for that! Could be painful, though…

  24. Here is a picture of the meteor fragment that landed near Lloydminster. So far, 10 fragments have been found on a frozen pond, and 2 more in a field nearby.
    http://www.globaltv.com/globaltv/national/story.html?id=1005586

  25. Matt

    I still suspect atmospheric refraction, which can make objects below the horizon appear to be as much as 20 degrees above the horizon. It can also make objects look bigger. The fireball was huge and 85 km above the earth.

  26. SkepTTic

    Don’t poke it with a stick! Don’t poke it with a stick!

  27. Matt

    HaH they found em in buzzards coulee. I go gopher hunting there some times. We used to party at the abbandonded buzzards bridge right by there. Maybe the rock they found is aluminum slag (beer cans) from the old fire pit, lol

  28. Mechman

    As described first hand in a RASC mailing list….there is a big chunk….

    Here are the words of one of the members of the Edmonton centre of the rasc…

    Hello from Marsden, Saskatchewan. I’m delighted to report that I was on hand
    today as the media horde descended on a farm just south of Lone Rock (!), SK,
    where several meteorite fragments were found frozen in a slough. It was quite
    the scene, with some 35 media people meeting at a fast food restaurant in
    Lloydminster, with some 20 vehicles joining a convoy for a 20-minute drive to
    the site. Plus a helicopter!

    These meteorites, recovered by Ellen Milley and Alan Hildebrand of the
    University of Calgary, have been tentatively identified as ordinary chondrites
    of Type 5 or 6. Dr. Hildebrand estimates that some thousands of meteorites may
    have fallen in a strewn field some 3 by 8 km in extent.

    Later as F**** and I roamed the area hoping to find a meteorite or two that may
    have fallen on crown land, we encountered another fellow with an astronomy
    interest who suggested we go to the Marsden Hotel pub about 20 km to the south.
    Here we saw an extraordinary site — a 13 kilogram meteorite which had been
    recovered by an enterprising rock hound. It was a monster, somewhat larger than
    a human head. My fellow adventurer F**** F****** quickly confirmed it was
    indeed a meteorite, and somehow Alan Hildebrand caught wind of it and arrived a
    couple hours later for a look-see. He too immediately confirmed its
    extraterrestrial origin. Where it was found and who actually owns the thing
    remains an open question at this point.

    Needless to say, though, it was a huge hit at the pub where the locals were
    passing it around and examining it carefully. Given it had already been handled
    rather excessively, there was no point in passing up the opportunity to pick up
    and hold this object which is simultaneously one of the newest and one of the
    oldest rocks on Earth. What a tremendous thrill to say the least.

    The combined observation of seeing the fireball, observing some of its
    meteorites _in situ_, and now having touched a large member of the family ranks
    very high on my Life List.

    More adventuring tomorrow; I’ll write a more detailed report once we return to
    Edmonton.

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