Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2008 November 25

Fireball Over Edmonton
Credit & Copyright Global Television Edmonton, YouTube

Explanation: What if you're driving down the street and an object from space shoots across the sky right in front of you? Such was the case last week for many people in south central Canada. Specifically, an extremely bright fireball, presumably a desk-sized meteor from deep space, flashed across the sky just after sunset on 2008 November 20. The bright fireball was recorded on many images and movies, including the spectacular video shown above that was captured by a dashboard camera of a police cruiser in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Because at least two streaks appear to be visible, the falling object likely broke up into pieces as it fell deep into Earth's atmosphere. By triangulating fireball images from several simultaneously recorded sources, astronomers hope to find an approximate orbit from whence the object came, as well as the likely place(s) on Earth where large pieces would have impacted, were they to have survived entry. In the best case scenario, pieces would be recovered from a known deep space comet or asteroid, giving humanity an unprecedented look at an ancient object that likely holds clues to the early years of our Earth and the Solar System.

Tomorrow's picture: orion's horse

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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