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

Maureen Coulter
Published on March 18, 2014

"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."