Camrose is the likely landing zone for August fireball, scientists say

People in the area of Camrose, Alta., are being asked to keep their eyes on the ground in search of something that fell from the sky.

On Aug. 31, many people took to social media with photos and videos of a mysterious bright object in the sky over the Edmonton area.

Many speculated that it appeared to be a meteor. They were right, say scientists from the University of Alberta.

“Scientists have verified with almost pinpoint-accuracy the trajectory of the fireball, along with the potential area where any meteorites associated with the event may have fallen,” said a news release issued Wednesday.

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Using data from a University of Alberta all-sky network camera at Lakeland College, triangulated with a “spectacular” image from photographer Shane Turgeon — which was confirmed by other photos from the public — scientists have been  able to verify the trajectory of the fireball.

They’ve also been able to determine the potential area where any meteorites associated with the event may have fallen.

The calculations were done by researchers at Curtin University in Perth, Australia as part of the Global Fireball Observatory.

The fireball ended 20 kilometres above Camrose, 100 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, which explains some reports of a sonic boom by residents in the area, the release said.

Despite hours of “exhaustive searching,” no meteorites have been found.

“While we haven’t found any meteorites yet, we are confident they are out there,” Chris Herd, professor in the department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the U of A states in the release.

It’s estimated that only about one kilogram of meteorite material reached the ground, he said.

“But it might be hiding in farmers’ fields, which we cannot get to yet,” Herd said.

The wet summer means that crops are late this year so it could be weeks before fields are cleared and more searching can take place.

For people wanting to do a search of their own, there are a few things they need to know.

Any meteorites found on a public right of way, such as a road, belong to the finder. However, a meteorite found on private land, belongs to the landowner.

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Either way, researchers at the U of A are keen to study any meteorites that landed during this event.

“Every newly fallen meteorite is like a spacecraft bringing a sample back from an asteroid or another planet,” Herd said. “It’s a chance to study a nearly pristine sample from space.”

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