Islanders report seeing fireball in sky over P.E.I.

Maureen Coulter
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"What is that?" Morris McIntyre said.

The 72-year-old Charlottetown man was sitting in his chair looking out his window when he noticed a big bright orange object falling out of the sky.

McIntyre usually doesn't get up so early but was tossing and turning most of the night and decided he may as well get up.

It happened fast and didn't last long, he said.

"It was intriguing."

It looked like something broke off the orange sphere shaped object before disappearing near the Charlottetown Airport, he said.

"It's strange whatever it was. If a similar thing happened elsewhere, who knows it could be something from space and broke off.  There is a lot of stuff up there we don't know much about."

Doubt had set into McIntyre's mind if he imaged it or not, however he wasn't the only person to see this bright flash. There were numerous reports from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and even parts of Quebec of a fireball in the sky.

Tracy Burke from Rollo Bay said she saw two flashes light up the sky as she was driving through Mount Stewart at around 5 a.m.

"It was like a sheet of lightning one after the other."

Burke ruled out lightning because of the cold and didn't seem to think it was a meteor either because of the spaced out flashes. The first flash lasted longer than the second one, she said.

"It reminded me of lightning in the summertime when it lights up the whole sky."

Megan Glover, technician and lecturer at UPEI, said the bright flash could be one of two things-remnants from a satellite or meteor.

Glover, who teaches astronomy at UPEI, said it's more likely a meteor. There are fragments of rock that fall from space all the time. A shooting star for example is a small meteorite, the one seen across the Maritimes was probably larger because it was brighter, she said.

"If it is high up in the sky a lot of people have a vantage point to view it so if it's good and bright it will be seen."

Robert Hawkes, physics professor at Mount Allison University, with his area of study on meteors, said he is fairly certain it was a bright meteor.

Since it was seen widely over the Maritimes, this indicates that it would be starting around a hundred of kilometres up in the sky and visible over hundreds of kilometers on the ground, he said.

"I'm not convinced it reached the ground."

Glover said these events get reported more often because people are more connected than before.

"There is just a lot more cameras everywhere. These things do fall all the time and it's normal."

McIntyre felt this is something he will only see once in a lifetime.

He wasn't concerned about the end of the world coming or anything like that, he said.

"I wasn't scared or anything just amazed when I saw it."

Organizations: Charlottetown Airport, Mount Allison University

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown, New Brunswick Nova Scotia Quebec Rollo Bay Mount Stewart

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Recent comments

  • Duh
    March 19, 2014 - 05:00

    There was an announcement on the news Monday evening, stating the Space Station could be seen clearly over Charlottetown Tuesday in the early AM. Yes, it was a marvelous sight. But probably more marvelous for those of us who knew it was the Space Station, or even what the Space Station is, Ms. Professor.

    • AS
      March 19, 2014 - 07:13

      Thanks DUH, for your wise comments. The Space Station can often be seen but it does not cause the entire sky to light up, nor does it shoot across the sky losing altitude like the videos posted of this likely meteor. It normally will just pass by us like a slow moving shooting star remaining very high in the sky.

    • Tweedle Duh
      March 19, 2014 - 07:39

      DUH, yes the ISS was ALSO seen yesterday morning. I witnessed both the ISS and this meteor yesterday. This was my second sighting of the ISS and I caught my first fireball meteor BECAUSE I was up watching for the ISS and enjoying a good cuppa.

  • julie
    March 18, 2014 - 20:50

    i saw this as well, i was having trouble sleeping as so i decided to go for a drive, and happen to be parked by the beach in north rustico and saw this happen! it also was lightening in the sky and this orange flame looked like it was breaking into pieces, it was very interesting and i am very glad i had the chance to see this!

  • Mark Hodson
    March 18, 2014 - 18:42

    I to saw this. I was coming across the Hillsborough Bridge at 5:05am head to the airport for a 6am flight. There was an excessively bright flash in the sky that was as bright as someone turning on the lights in a dark room! Then instantly after that I witnessed a very bright orange yellow fireball coming down with a large flaming tail and smaller fireballs breaking off it. It looked to be right over the Brackly Beach area. It was only a half mile high in the sky; very close to the ground. I stoped at the Tim Hortons just off the bridge to get a coffee. I was telling the girls working there what I had just seen and they said just 2 minutes ago the windows had lit right up like the sun came out for a second or two! It was something I will likely never see again but I am glad to witness such a marvel.