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Meteor Flies over Ontario

By: Eric Wang

On Saturday, November 19, a meteor soared above Ontario, Canada, becoming a bright fireball as it passed through the Earth’s atmosphere. This meteor was the sixth object ever detected in space before it hit Earth.

The Minor Planet Center, which tracks various objects in the Solar System, says this meteor, temporarily designated #C8FF042, entered Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 3:27 am EST over Brantford, Ontario.

Meteors are meteoroids that enter the Earth’s atmosphere; this entry causes the meteor to burn, creating that bright fireball look. Meteors that don’t completely burn up in the atmosphere and fall to the ground are meteorites.

Mike Hankey, the operations manager of the American Meteor Society, says that “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. There is a chance if there are meteorites that survived that they might be recoverable near Grimsby, Ontario, or St. Catharines, Ontario, near the Niagara Falls area.”

Around 40 to 100 tons of space material fall to Earth daily, but most come from space dust. This dust is harmless, but huge meteors could cause an extinction like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Scientists ramped up efforts to detect meteors in 2008. Since then, five other meteors, not including the one this November, have been detected in space before falling to Earth.

Such detection can help authorities warn people if a medium-sized meteor might explode in a fly-by, which could break windows or get valuable information about a potential deflection of a large meteoroid.

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