Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad
Fire in the sky

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Sep 13/02) - Was it a bird, a plane, a free falling piece of space garbage?

According to the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre, whatever Sue Tkachuk saw in the sky Sunday evening was likely none of these, but a bona fide meteor.

NNSL Photo

Sue Tkachuk scans the sky in hope of seeing another fireball. - Mike W. Bryant/NNSL photo

Tkachuk was relaxing at home near the airport, when at about 9 p.m., she spotted a bright, burning ball of fire shooting across the horizon from her livingroom window.

"A flight was coming in, and I said to my husband, 'I bet that pilot had to have seen that burning in the sky,'" says Tkachuk.

"You can see the fire stream behind it, then all of sudden, poof, it was gone."

Yellowknifer tried to confirm Tka-chuk's sighting of a fireball with the Yellowknife Airport, but manager Michel Lafrance hadn't heard of any fireball sighting.

One of Tkachuk's neighbours also saw the meteor but could not be reached for comment.

"I'm sure the (airport) tower seen it," insists Tkachuk. "If we seen it from our livingroom window, then that plane coming in shortly after..."

Tkachuk's observation left her wondering what it was she really saw, but she strongly believes it must have been a meteor.

As it turned out, there was a confirmed report of a meteor burning in the sky at approximately 9 p.m. -- in Redwater, Alta., about 900 kilometres south of Yellowknife.

Alan Hildebrand, co-ordinator for the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre -- yes, that is the real name -- said despite the distance between the two communities, it could have easily been the same meteor.

The Redwater sighting was reported to have been north of the community, travelling low on the horizon on a roughly east-west heading.

The centre reports only 70 fireballs a year.

"It would be no problem at all actually to see the same fireball from the two places," says Hildebrand.

"They're saying (in Redwater) it was quite north of them because it was quite low in the sky. If it's low in the sky it means it's got to be a long ways away from you."

Regardless, Tkachuk says she is just happy to see such a rare occurrence. "It was so cool."