Reports of a meteor strike over the skies of B.C. and neighbouring provinces and U.S. states lit up something else as well: Police phone lines.
Local police forces in the south-central region of British Columbia and eastern Alberta reported receiving dozens of phone calls from people seeing the fiery phenomenon around 10 p.m. Monday night.
Witnesses reported seeing a bright flash and a loud boom before the fireball hit the ground.
“We saw the sky light up and then a big fireball heading north crossing the sky. A minute or two later there was a huge boom,” said Marisa Bronson, who lives in Nelson, B.C.
The American Meteor Society has received more than 200 reports of the unique celestial event.
While the agency said it was primarily seen over British Columbia, it was also visible over Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as Washington State, Idaho and Montana south of the border.
By its estimated trajectory, the fireball headed in a southeast to northwest direction entering the atmosphere near the small city of Boswell, and terminating near Meadow Creek, B.C.
In Calgary, Moe Jarrah said he saw the fireball stream through the sky for about four seconds.
“It wasn’t small like a shooting star, it was close,” he told CTV News. “It was [a] very bright yellow and red streak that exploded at the end.”
While the unusual sight wowed stargazers, HR MacMillan Space Centre Astronomer Derek Kief says the event had relatively low value to scientists.
“It does lead to the bigger conversation of what would happen if this thing was bigger, or if a larger object was to impact us, and that’s where the real science comes in,” he told CTV Vancouver.
Knowing where and when the actual impact happened may never be determined, he added, because the meteor could have disintegrated and broken apart as it neared the earth’s surface.
“It’s such a quick event that’s it’s actually hard to say,” he said. “It may have just been dust.”
— CTV Darcy (@darcynews) September 5, 2017
We’re getting calls from across BC about a possible meteorite sighting. Witnesses describe a flash of light and a loud “boom”. @CTVVancouver
— Jordana Springgay (@CTVJordana) September 5, 2017