Great Balls Of Fire: A Look At Famous BC Meteorites

Unsure if that blazing night light was a UFO? Maybe it was one of these extraordinary meteors that has entered British Columbia airspace in the last 20 years. By Vince Hempsall

Producers of blockbuster disaster flicks might be surprised to learn that 16 meteorites land on our planet every day, according to Uruguayan astronomer Gonzalo Tancredi who has used a century’s worth of sightings and computer modelling to make his calculation. He presented his results at the International Academy of Astronautics’ Planetary Defence Conference in 2019 and said the majority of these space rocks are small and unseen because they land in daylight and in uninhabited regions. But on the night of September 4, 2017, a substantial meteor blasted through eastern British Columbia’s airspace and disintegrated above Kootenay Lake. Scores of people reported seeing the massive flash. A month later, University of Calgary students found three coin-sized fragments in the forest east of Crawford Bay, and it was estimated the main rock was a metre long.

An even larger meteor burned up in the atmosphere over northern British Columbia in 2000. It was 15 metres long and fragments ranging in size from a peppercorn to a softball landed on the frozen Tagish Lake, south of Whitehorse, Yukon. Astronomers have spent the past two decades studying their chemical composition, and in a report published this past May, they revealed the meteor was rich in sodium and high in pH conditions, theorizing it is an ideal environment for the formation of amino acids and could explain how microbial life on Earth was triggered.

Author / Contributor

Vince Hempsall lives in the beautiful mountain town of Nelson, British Columbia, where he spends his time rock climbing, backcountry skiing and mountain biking (when not working). He is the editor of Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine and online editor for the Mountain Culture Group.

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