A ball of fire flashes over Ontario and parts of the United States

A fireball that hovered over Ontario, Canada, early Saturday was the sixth object to be detected in space before it hit Earth, said the European Space Agency.

In the early hours of Saturday, word spread through the community of professional and amateur stargazers that a meteor was on its way and that observers should keep their telescopes and cameras pointed skyward.

The Minor Planet Center, which tracks objects in the solar system, said the meteor entered Earth’s atmosphere around 3:27 a.m. Eastern Standard Time over Brantford, Ont.

The fast-moving object, which has the temporary designation of #C8FF042, was detected in images taken at the Mount Lemmon Survey near Tucson, Arizona, the Minor Planet Center said.

Mike Hankey, director of operations for the American Meteor Society, was in Maine setting up cameras to monitor the sky when he received a call about the meteor around 4 a.m. from someone in Germany.

He said messages about the meteor had started circulating about three hours earlier.

“When these things happen, the astronomical community wants to know where the impact took place and, if the meteorites survived, they want to recover them as soon as possible,” Hankey said.

A fireball is a meteor typically brighter than the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky, according to the American Meteor Society, which had received 33 reports of a fireball from people in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ontario Saturday afternoon. .

Some people in and around Hamilton, Ontario, said on social media they heard a big boom. Astronomers were able to use these reports, along with radar readings, to determine where meteorites were likely to have hit Earth.

“There is a chance that if there are any surviving meteorites, they could be recovered near Grimsby, Ontario, or St. Catharines, Ontario, near the Niagara Falls area,” said Mr Hankey.

An estimated 40 to 100 tons of space material hit Earth every day, and most are very small particles, according to the European Space Agency.

Mr Hankey said astronomers did not know the size of the meteor on Saturday. A meteor is what a meteoroid, a small piece of asteroid or a comet, becomes when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. A meteoroid that survives its fiery descent and hits the ground is called a meteorite.

According to the European Space Agency, global efforts to identify large asteroids, which can span miles in diameter, and to detect them before impact have intensified in recent years.

Since 2008, five more objects have been detected in space before they hit Earth, the result of improved observation technologies and greater global collaboration, the agency said.

The ability to detect these space objects before they hit Earth gives authorities the ability to warn people to stay away from windows if a medium-sized meteor is likely to pass by and explode, which could smash windows, or use asteroid deflection missions to stop the bigger ones from hitting.

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