Brilliant Fireball Over Canada Sparks Meteorite Hunt

Scientists are rushing to the site of a possible meteorite impact after a bright fireball lit up the skies over southwestern Ontario on Tuesday night.

The basketball-sized fireball was spotted at 10:24 p.m. local time in seven all-sky cameras operated by the Southern Ontario Meteor Network, according to meteor scientist Peter Brown of Western University in London, Ontario. He said two other camera systems in Ohio and Pennsylvania, operated jointly with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, also spotted the fireball.

This video of the March 18 fireball shows all nine camera views of the meteor flare-up.

Image: Fireball
Canadian researchers are seeking any meteorites associated with this fireball that flashed over southwestern Ontario on March 18. Univ. of Western Ontario

Western University scientists suspect the fireball exploded about 47 miles (75 kilometers) above Port Dover, Ontario, and moved west until breaking up at an altitude of 20 miles (32 kilometers), between Aylmer and St. Thomas, about two hours west of Toronto. [5 Amazing Fireball Videos]

"In this fall, meteorites may be found in a small hole produced by their dropping into soil," university officials advised. "Meteorites are not dangerous, but any recovered meteorites should be placed in a clean plastic bag or container and be handled as little as possible to preserve their scientific information."

One or more meteorites may have emerged from the fireball, falling 3 miles (5 kilometers) to the north or northwest of St. Thomas, the researchers said.

— Elizabeth Howell,

If you captured a great photo of Tuesday's fireball over Canada, or any other night sky view, and would like to share it with for a story or gallery, please send comments and images to managing editor Tariq Malik at:

Western University requests that any possible meteorite finds should be reported to McCausland at 519-661-2111, ext. 88008 or on his cell at 519-694-3323. The university is posting updates about the meteorite hunt on Twitter via @mediawesternu and with the hashtag #stthomasmeteor.

This is a condensed version of a report from Read the full report. Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter, and follow on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.