Great Balls of Fire

Sometimes nature is responsible for the best special effects.

When a meteor entered the earth’s atmosphere over Saskatchewan last November, more than 100,000 people in Western Canada saw a light show in the night sky that trailed the fireball as it fell to earth.

In the video above, a police dashboard camera caught the whole thing on tape.

Although, no one found the shattered pieces until University of Calgary Grad student Ellen Milley spotted some black lumps on an ice-covered pond.

In Canadian Geographic’s October issue cartographer Steven Fick charts the space rock’s fiery end.

Scientists hadn’t detected this meteor in space, or predicted it would hit the earth. But last year in Sudan some scientists did just that.

Magazines like Sky & Telescope and Wired covered the story.

This meteor fell and exploded just like the Canadian one, although it lit up the “predawn darkness over northern Sudan, creating sonic booms, and frightening thousands there and in southern Egypt as they headed home after morning prayers.”

The American scientist who spotted it, astronomer Timothy Spahr, along with a meteor specialist in California, Peter Jenniskens, rounded up students from the University of Khartoum in Sudan and sent them on a mission to locate the debris in the Nubian desert.

The search team succeeded after four days of looking. The black rocks showed up against the desert sand, just as the Canadian space rocks contrasted against the icy ponds of Saskatchewan—a perfect union of astronomy and geography.

[Reposted from Canadian Geographic Compass Blog]

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