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There will a full lunar eclipse Wednesday night. (Photo: Kelly Hayes)
There will a full lunar eclipse Wednesday night. (Photo: Kelly Hayes)

Space rock puts on a show

by Rachael Kimola - Story: 37422
Feb 19, 2008 / 12:30 pm

That thing in the sky above the Okanagan early Tuesday morning was likely a piece of space rock.

Sightings of the bright object have been reported from Penticton to Kelowna and Westside.

Tom Malgevlch lives in Shannon Woods on the Westside and was in the right place at the right time.

“I was up at about 5:30 a.m. getting ready for work. I was maybe two feet from a sliding glass door. I was just looking out into space and there it was, flashing across the sky. It was bright yellow, with a long tail. It looked exactly like something you’d see in a movie,” says Malgevlch.

He says the object was visible for only a couple of seconds.

“It went behind the mountains behind the Upper Mission. After it vanished, I watched the mountains for a few minutes to see if maybe it started a fire, but there was no glowing. It was just gone.”

Doctor Ken Tapping of the White Lake Observatory near Penticton says the object was probably a chunk of space rock, left over from the formation of the planets.

“I didn’t actually see the object myself, but I feel I can make an educated guess from the reports and descriptions I’ve heard about it. The Earth picks up about 100 tonnes of space material a day. I believe this was a piece of rock as opposed to a chunk of solid nickel iron due to the fact that people are reporting seeing an explosion. A piece of rock entering our atmosphere will explode due to the heat of entry and the changes in atrophic pressure. A chunk of nickel iron will not,” says Tapping.

He says the rock probably sailed over the Okanagan about 100 kilometres above the ground at a very high rate of speed before landing somewhere in Southern Washington.

Tapping says residents can expect to see another interesting sight in the sky this week.

“On Wednesday evening, what’s going to happen is the moon will move through the Earth’s shadow. The moon is just a big chunk of rock that doesn’t give off any light on its own, we only see it because the sun lights it up. So we will see the moon darken. Depending on the atmospheric conditions, the amount of pollution in the air and so on, it may range anywhere from a pretty copper colour to an ash gray.”

He says the shadow will start becoming visible by about 5:36 p.m., with the full effects being visible around 7 p.m.


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