EDMONTON — The bright flash of light across the Alberta sky earlier this evening wasn’t a bird and it wasn’t a plane.
It was a meteor seen from across this province and even parts of Manitoba.
“I did hear a boom … I lifted my eyes and this bright meteor was falling,” said Marcellin Gobeil, who lives on a farm about three kilometres west of Beaumont.
“It came down pretty fast, but it lasted a long time, a lot longer than I’ve ever seen it,” he said, adding the massive and awe-inspiring spectacle painted the dark sky at around 5:30 p.m. in bright shades of orange, green and blue. “When it hit the ground it was still lit.”
One Edmontonian even called the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre – the organization in Ontario that tracks airplane crashes throughout the country – shortly before the heavenly apparition was confirmed as a meteor.
“Somebody called here, she was driving downtown Edmonton and she saw a huge bright light turn orange,” said Capt. Pierre Bolduc with the centre, adding RCMP have gotten hundreds of calls.
Nikki Booth, spokesman for Edmonton Fire Rescue, said they also got calls about the flash of light, but did not respond to it, as they believed the meteor landed south of the city.
Gobeil, however, says the rocky space invader most likely slammed into the ground somewhere in Manitoba, which is just fine by him, after the moment of fear the apparition caused him.
“I was kind of scared, actually. I didn’t know what the heck it was and, to me, it was going to hit the town of Beaumont and that’s where my kids are,” Gobeil said. “It looked so close, and when I didn’t see any explosion or anything I said, ‘Good, it’s gotta be way past that.’ ”
“The question now that remains is whether anything made it to the ground,” said Chris Herd, a science professor at the U of A. “This thing was so bright it indicates that it’s a pretty good-sized piece of space rock.”
Herd is hoping that reports from the public will lead to finding the rock – if any of it survived the fiery fall – so he and others at the university can analyze it.
Anyone wishing to report their sighting is encouraged to do so at miac.uqac.ca.