Live in Ontario Canada? – help find this meteorite

Astronomers from The University of Western Ontario have released footage of a meteor that was approximately 100 times brighter than a full moon. The meteor lit up the skies of southern Ontario two weeks ago and Western astronomers are now hoping to enlist the help of local residents in recovering one or more possible meteorites that may have crashed in the area of Grimsby, Ontario.

For video footage, still images and site maps, please visit their website here.

Fireball Path Image [Click to Enlarge]

Ground track and projected meteorite fall area for the September 25th Grimsby fireball

The Physics and Astronomy Department at Western has a network of all-sky cameras in southern Ontario that scan the atmosphere monitoring for meteors. Associate Professor Peter Brown, who specializes in the study of meteors and meteorites, says that on Friday, September 25 at 9:03 p.m. EST seven all-sky cameras of Western’s Southern Ontario Meteor Network (SOMN) recorded a brilliant fireball in the evening sky over the west end of Lake Ontario.

Brown along with Phil McCausland, a postdoctoral fellow at Western’s Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration, are now working to get the word out amongst interested people who may be willing to see if they can spot any fallen meteorites.

“This particular meteorite fall, if any are found, is very important because its arrival was so well recorded. We have good camera records as well as radar and infrasound detections of the event, so that it will be possible to determine its orbit prior to collision with the Earth and to determine the energy of the fireball event,” says McCausland. “We can also figure out where it came from and how it got here, which is rare. In all of history, only about a dozen meteorite falls have that kind of record.”

The fireball was first detected by Western’s camera systems at an altitude of 100 km over Guelph moving southeastwards at 20.8 km/s. The meteoroid was initially the size of a child’s tricycle.

Analysis of the all-sky camera records as well as data from Western’s meteor radar and infrasound equipment indicates that this bright fireball was large enough to have dropped meteorites in a region south of Grimsby on the Niagara Peninsula, providing masses that may total as much as several kilograms.

Researchers at Western are interested in hearing from anyone within 10 km of Grimsby who may have witnessed or recorded this event, seen or heard unusual events at the time, or who may have found possible fragments of the freshly fallen meteorite.

According to McCausland, meteorites are of great scientific value. He also points out that in Canada meteorites belong to the owner of the land upon which they are discovered. If individuals intend to search they should, in all cases, obtain the permission of the land owner before searching on private land.

Meteorites may best be recognized by their dark and scalloped exterior, and are usually denser than normal rock and will often attract a fridge magnet due to their metal content. In this fall, meteorites may be found in a small hole produced by their dropping into soil. Meteorites are not dangerous, but any recovered meteorites should be placed in a clean plastic bag or container and be handled as little as possible to preserve their scientific information.

If you have questions, observations or possible meteorites from this Sept. 25th event, please contact Phil McCausland at 519-661-2111, ext. 87985 or on his cell at 519-694-3323.

  • Dr. Phil McCausland
  • Phone: (519) 661-2111 ext-87985 (UWO Meteor Physics Lab)
  • Cell: (519) 694-3323
  • e-mail: pmccausl at


45 thoughts on “Live in Ontario Canada? – help find this meteorite

  1. since that vid shows it flaming out in midair, it’d be surprising if there was a big enough chunk left to hit the ground.

  2. ET, you could even create an entire religion around it… maybe a cult… heck, you could build a gigantic temple and have people visit it from all around the world. On the other hand, I think that idea’s been taken.
    This is exciting stuff, actually… the Alberta one (shows up after the video link above) had most of Alberta running around looking for it… and it was definitely bright enough to freak a lot of people out.
    In fact, my previous job had me out driving at night between cities, and it’s amazing how many you see if you’re paying attention.

  3. No right turn there; that was the reflection on the lens of the camera.
    Fascinating shot of the meteorite’s final flight!

  4. Detected over Guelph? Steve McIntyre must have a hand in this! Quick call the ‘scientists’ over at RC; they’ll have an opinion…

  5. Very cool. When I was a kid, back in either 1980 or 1981 I saw a very similar meteorite(not as bright, but a longer tail) in Chico, CA. During summer camp with a bunch of 4th graders camping out. I was a counselor, and we had just finished telling about 2 hours worth of UFO stories to the campers. Needless to say, they all wanted to get back to the cabin and sleep indoors…

  6. This recalls the opening scene of The Blob.
    And supposing that this meteorite had hit a city, it would have killed lots more people than AGW.

  7. Sorry to post this here but I don’t know where else to post:
    Climate Progress is the second* ranked science blog
    October 7, 2009
    *third if you count anti-scientific websites like WattsUpWithThat, as Wikio does.
    But should I put their little widget near the top of CP as Watts does? It would, of course, say ‘3′ on it (for now).
    I had not heard of these Wikio rankings, but I periodically check WattsUpWithThat for the latest in denier talking points — yes, it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it, and it shouldn’t have to be you! What do I see but yet another website recognizing WattsUp as a science blog, when it is the exact opposite, as evidenced by his reprinting and endorsing a broad-based attack on the integrity of the entire scientific community and by his generally pushing disinformation [see “Diagnosing a victim of anti-science syndrome (ASS)” and links below].
    Still, notwithstanding Wikio’s refusal to draw a distinction between science and antiscience, the ranking is a relatively objective, as described here:
    I have tried and tried and tried to post at Climate Progress.
    They won’t post anything that counters their Goebellesque propanda. The site is sealed off from logic and reason.
    And they seem a bit jealous of this fine site, eh?

  8. BTW- I just took a screen shot of my latest post awaiting moderation:
    Record low temperatures in 10 states (66 records) – 5 Oct 09
    Record low temperatures in 12 states (61 records) – 4 Oct 09
    Record low temperatures in 15 states (139 records) – 3 Oct 09
    Record low temperatures in 20 states (154 records) – 2 Oct 09
    Record low temperatures in 15 states (94 records) – 1 Oct 09
    Snowfall past 36 hours western Montana/north central Idaho – 5 Oct 09
    Record low in Sacramento, California – 5 Oct 09
    “(No news coverage, of course,” says reader Jeff Even.)
    Record snowfall in Pocatello, Idaho- 5 Oct 09
    Record snowfall – Billings, MT – 5 Oct 09
    Snowing all weekend in California mountains – 5 Oct 09
    Unusually cold winter for East Coast – 5 Oct 09
    Winter storm warning for Montana – 5 Oct 09
    Record low maximum in Medford, Oregon – 5 Oct 09
    Being a “scientific” website I thought Climate Progress would post this…..maybe yes and probably not.

  9. For Greg, re Chico, Calif: I remember in the early 70’s seeing an absolutely spectaclur display overhead from Phoenix Az. All the neighbors were calling each other out since it was early evening and it lasted so long! It first burned yellow, then blue, then green, then broke into 7 or 8 flaming chunks that tumbled and landed out in the desert somewhere. A fantastic sight that burned across the entire sky!
    We found out sometime later that this wasn’t really a meteorite; it was a secret launch from Vandenburg that hadn’t gone quite according to plan. Oops.
    or maybe that was just the cover story…..

  10. TomLama (13:58:46) :
    Sorry to post this here but I don’t know where else to post:

    Links under the website banner: ‘Tips and Notes’
    Not that Josef Rommel’s missives are ever particularly noteworthy…

  11. Well, good luck finding that meteorite, if it didn’t hit the lake. The area is a heavy mix of suburban residential, light commercial, modest agricultural and hobby farms along the south edge of the Niagara Escarpment. Its going to have to be the size of concrete block to be distiguishable, and if it is, there’ll likely be a small crater on somebody’s property (or rearranged buildings or vehicles…:) No shortage of people to look for it, though. This being Southern Ontario, best to offer a reward… (oops, did I say that out loud…?)

  12. Darn! I was just at Grimsby about that time in August.
    It probably landed in Wayne Gretzky’s winery.

  13. We gots da rock. If you wants to seeze it alive, ya puts a zillion bucks in da trash out back of the Grimsby steak and Poutine house at midnite. No cops! Or we snuff it!
    Tink aboud it.

  14. Was curious as to how hazardous these small meteorites might be. Considering they are quite numerous has anyone or a plane, animal or house ever been struck by one?

  15. If one really wants to find this meteorite, one first has to understand the Canadian psyche.
    We are closet capitalists at heart – we like incentives.
    For first prize, four seasons tickets for the winner’s hockey team of choice, right behind the home team players’ bench.
    For runners-up (those who were searching in the same quarter-section at the time of discovery), a frosty case of Molson’s Canadian (a 2-4).
    For non beer-drinkers, a $50 gift certificate to Tim Hortons.
    Beauty, eh?

  16. Richard (15:51:54) :
    “Was curious as to how hazardous these small meteorites might be. Considering they are quite numerous has anyone or a plane, animal or house ever been struck by one?”
    I recall reading in the newspaper about someone sitting in their house being struck by a meteorite. Unfortunately, I read it about 40+/- years ago, so I’m not sure if the incident can be conjured up in a google search. The person wound up with a serious bruise but wasn’t killed. The roof needed some repairs, too ;o)
    (Ok, Richard. Now you’ve done it, darn it! I’m off to google-land to see if I can find the story or a reference to the story. BBS.)

  17. Infrasound appears to have many purely mechanical causes, but is a measure of electrical discharge as well. ????

  18. Hmmm, Google Earth has now implemented Street View in Ontario, over the protestations of many, so now you can go looking for it without leaving your chair. Odds are good if its no smaller than a pingpong ball, you’ll see it… 🙁

  19. This is somewhat OT, but given this article would have few on topic posts, a comment about one of the most exciting meteorite recoveries ever can’t be far off topic.
    In January 2000 a fireball in Western Canada exploded with energy equivalent to 5-10 thousand tons of TNT. Fragments landed on frozen Tagish Lake and many pieces were collected by someone who know what he was doing – he put them in plastic bags and kept them frozen. The meteorites are a “carbonaceous chondrite” and are mix of carbon, sulfur, and turn to mush when exposed to water. The early and competent collection made them likely the most pristine meteorites of that class ever collected.

  20. Allan M R MacRae (16:06:20) :
    For runners-up (those who were searching in the same quarter-section at the time of discovery), a frosty case of Molson’s Canadian (a 2-4).

    Molson’s! Mon Dieu! Labatts Bleu s’il vous plait
    For non beer-drinkers, a $50 gift certificate to Tim Hortons.
    Non beer-drinkers? Um, is there such a thing? 😉
    FWIW I once heard the ‘factoid’ that about 2 x per year a rock from space hits the air with enough energy to be about the same as a small nuke. Most of these are over the “big empty” so nobody notices much… Seems the early nuke detectors were reporting 2 per year and they had to find tune them to look for the ‘double peak’ signature of a real nuke…
    We really do live in a shooting gallery…

  21. I’ve re-evaluated the trajectory of that meteor with a computer model that I’ve been working on for some time and which friends of mine reckon is pretty good as it agrees with their models too. The meteor’s path is essentially flat for most of the video, but near the end it suddenly climbs upwards precipitously and leaves the earth in an unprecedented manner. My model indicates that it is the atmospheric conditions over Canada – an abundance of hot air – that is responsible. Unless something is done, more and more meteors will start to do this. The time to act is now, before it is too late. Help save the meteorite.

  22. Hi HR 16:18:24, I recall an automobile being auctioned off which had taken a meteor strike. Can’t recall details but do remember that the vehicle (late 60s model?) went for big bucks. Regards, Ray

  23. Zeke (16:42:28) : Infrasound appears to have many purely mechanical causes, but is a measure of electrical discharge as well. ????
    I think it is the big KA-BOOM! that makes the infrasound…

  24. E.M.Smith (18:05:11)
    FWIW I once heard the ‘factoid’ that about 2 x per year a rock from space hits the air with enough energy to be about the same as a small nuke. Most of these are over the “big empty” so nobody notices much…

    A stony meteoroid of about 10 metres in diameter can produce an explosion of around 20 kilotons, similar to that of the Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki, these happen more than once per year.
    Several times per century, there are megaton size blasts. The Tunguska event in Siberia in 1908 was much larger, on the order of 10-15 megatons. A blast that size, 5 miles in the air can take out a large metro area…..without leaving a crater. Gene Shoemaker estimated that this size event probably happens about every three hundred years, but obviously there are a lot of assumptions that go into such an estimate, and even so, they could happen at any time.
    A shooting gallery, yes, but it’s a bomb range as well.

  25. “I think it is the big KA-BOOM! that makes the infrasound…”
    Sure, I guess. I was just reading about it a couple of weeks ago because it is used for early warning systems on active volcanos. The odd thing about it is that it is inaudible to us, but we can still sense it, and it can give humans a feeling of anxiety and distress. So it might be the frequency that gives animals warnings about imminent disasters. Infrasound is also present with lightning and the auroras, as well as tornados. What I was fishing for is whether the sound actually preceeds the disastrous event, so you can get out of the way before the KA-BOOM. But that could be way off.
    I think one of those infrasound sensors would be good to have. Better than two worthless cats that sleep all day…

  26. Sort of like this:
    “It has been pointed by C. T. R. Wilson in 1920 that sudden reduction of the electric field inside a thundercloud immediately following a lightning discharge should produce an infrasound signature.”
    But, they also detect infrasound in sprites, that are electrical phenomenon associated with the lightning we see here below. And the atmosphere is so thin up there, you couldn’t just blame it on changes in air pressure.
    I really don’t know, I am just prying.

  27. H.R. (16:18:24) : I’m baaack from google-land and here’s what I found. Only two people are known to have been struck by meteorites and survived.
    I wonder how many were struck and didn’t survive then? 🙂 lol this seems hazardous. We should all be looking skywards and ducking for cover

  28. And they seem a bit jealous of this fine site, eh?
    If you can’t win the argument…throw insults and try to discredit the opposition. Seems to be the way of the the AGW side.

  29. HR 16:12:35
    Richard 15:51:54
    Wikipedia (so it must be true) tells the story of Ann Hodges who was badly bruised by a meteorite that crashed into the living-room of her sweet home in Alabama in 1954.

  30. E.M.Smith (18:05:11) :
    We really do live in a shooting gallery…

    On September 18, 2009, while traveling to “grandmothers house” at approximately 12:30 pm MST, a meteor came within 30 yards (estimated) of hitting my Nissan. It came into my sight (I was driving) over my left shoulder, traveled left to right across the road and apparently flamed out just before impact barely over the fence on the right side of the roadside ditch. I realize it was traveling very fast, but I had the time to yell “Look at that honey” (she was asleep) when it crossed the left-hand windshield strut and came into full view in the center of the windshield area. She scrambled awake in time to see it cross the center line of the highway and flame out (she screamed). The entire episode lasted about 3-4 seconds (which seems to not concur with the speed these things must travel). At my first sight, I immediately nailed the brakes (I at first thought it was a UFO) slowed and we stopped by the area where it should have landed, looking for fire in the pasture. After about ten minutes we continued on our drive. I can’t really depict the imagery, except to say it resembled a very large bottle rocket headed down. Our subsequent reaction to that event is still under review. Needless to say, it was awesome. We stopped by the same place on our way back home and walked around a bit, but couldn’t find anything. If you’re up for it, the location is 4.3 miles south of Wheeler Kansas (pop. about 4, north of Goodland) on the east side of the highway. I can’t explain why something can’t be found. I was afraid that chunks were going to fall onto our windshield, as we drove under the path.

  31. Uber Jalemon beat me to it. Meteorites are very valuable. If you find one, there are collectors that will happily pay well for them. Schools will pay too, but they don’t like to pay as much as collectors.

  32. That was no meteor at all.
    It was Michael Ignatieff’s ego-filled brain exploding from its own self-perceived greatness. ☺☺
    I little anti-Ignatieff frozen humor. He’s a legend in his own mind.
    Trust me. ☺
    Clive of the the Once-Again-Frozen-North
    … where winter has arrived 6 weeks early..and it left six weeks late last June. Ugh!

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