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Meteor over Ontario

Dozens of Ontario residents say they think they saw a meteor streak across the sky Sunday afternoon, and an expert says there is little doubt that is what they spotted.

Peter Brown, a professor at the University of Western Ontario who studies meteors and meteorites, says the widespread eyewitness reports and images are consistent with a meteor.

Many Ontarians took to social media or contacted the American Meteor Society to report either a flash of light or a loud rumble.

The reports came in from various southern Ontario communities and parts of the United States.

The meteor society posted a comment from a person who said he was from Toronto and that the flash was brighter than a lightning bolt.

Dana Petrillo, of Colbourg, Ont., tweeted that her house vibrated and that she first thought there had been an earthquake or explosion.

"It was a really low rumble that just reverberated through the walls. It really wasn't a shaking, like in an earthquake, but more like a wave. It really did feel like an explosion," she said in an email.

Most of the equipment the university has to track meteors was not in operation Sunday afternoon, but a series of microphones the university has in place did detect a shockwave, Brown said.

Based on the data and the eyewitness reports it appears the shockwave occurred in the area of Peterborough, Ont., and its characteristics allowed for an estimate of the size of the meteor, said Brown.

”The energy is somewhere in the order of a few tens of tons of TNT explosive equivalent," he said in an interview Sunday night. "That would translate into something on the order of half to one metre in diameter and that’s going to be a mass of ....a few metric tons.”

It's possible some fragments hit the ground, Brown added.

”This clearly was a pretty massive event, lots of mass, so on that basis alone I think we have a pretty good chance that meteorites would make it to the ground,” he said.

The odds of fragments hitting the ground depend on how fast the meteor was travelling — a relatively slow moving fireball would make it more likely that some meteorites may be found.

The Canadian Press

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