A meteor that lit up the evening sky over parts of British Columbia and Alberta – to say nothing of social media – likely went down in a remote area and will be difficult to examine.
The fireball was spotted Monday night and eyewitness reports spanned much of southern British Columbia, from Vancouver Island to the Interior and across the provincial border to Calgary.
The American Meteor Society said the fireball likely went down near the small B.C. community of Meadow Creek, about 100 kilometres north of Nelson. It said sightings were also reported in Saskatchewan, Washington, Idaho and Montana.
Brett Gladman, a professor at the University of British Columbia whose research includes astronomy and astrophysics, said in an interview that video of the incident suggested it involved "a standard bright meteoritic fireball."
Prof. Gladman said from the footage he's seen the meteor was likely "baseball- to basketball-sized" and moving at a rate of 20 kilometres to 30 kilometres a second.
He said it appears to have gone down in a heavily forested and mountainous region.
"So I'm not getting in my car to go see if I can find fragments," he said.
"If this had been a thing where it was over nice freshly snow-dusted Prairies and you could localize it better than this one, it might be worth searching for."
He said such events are not uncommon, but if anybody near the region in which the meteor went down finds black rocks that weren't previously there, "they should call."
Alan Hildebrand, an associate professor of geoscience at the University of Calgary, said fireballs occur quite regularly, but this one appeared especially bright. He said it likely broke up into chunks ranging from 10 kilograms to smaller than pea-sized.
Though Prof. Gladman said the meteor did not appear particularly unusual, Prof. Hildebrand said from the footage he's seen the meteor did appear quite large when it entered the atmosphere and could have weighed up to 10 tonnes.
Some witnesses said the meteor was followed by a loud boom. Kevin Skrepnek, B.C.'s chief fire information officer, tweeted he was on a patio in Nelson when "the entire sky lit up and a meteorite came down."
He said the boom came about one minute later.
Prof. Gladman said the fact the blast was heard by people many kilometres apart could indicate it was on the "slightly more energetic end of the spectrum."
Jimmy-Lee Vennard was in a friend's outdoor hot tub in southwest Calgary when he spotted the fireball.
He said it was unlike anything he'd ever witnessed.
"It was insane," he said. "It lit up the neighbourhood … and then it just disappeared."
Security cameras at the Fernie, B.C., office of Isosceles Business Systems, an information-technology company, captured the flash.
It was so bright the cameras switched to day mode, according to head field technician Jesse Mould.
Mr. Mould was at home watching TV when white light shined through his blinds.
"All of a sudden it was like lightning happened outside," he said.
Footage of a glowing orb racing toward a mountain top was also captured by a security camera at Jacquie McKay's cattle ranch in Bridge Lake, B.C., northwest of Kamloops.
"I was actually reading and there was a bright flash outside the window and my husband's like, 'What the heck?'"
The RCMP in British Columbia said they received dozens of reports about the fireball.
"It's obviously bright enough for people all over to see it," RCMP Staff Sergeant Troy Gross said.
William Smith, with the website bcmeteors.net, which tracks meteors, also said searching for meteor fragments could prove difficult. He said heading up B.C. mountains has rarely resulted in such discoveries.
"But you never know," he added.
With a report from The Canadian Press