A photo of a fireball shot by Johnson Greg and uploaded to the American Meteor Society. Courtesy of www.amsmeteors.org

Fireballs and Jupiter, all you have to do is look up

Penticton astronomer said lots of neat things to see in the sky on a clear night

As several sightings of fireballs lighting up the night skies have been reportedly recently, a Penticton astronomer said it is nothing out of the ordinary.

“It is fairly typical this time of year. We have dark, clear nights now. It’s not too cold out so people are staying outside longer,” said Ken Tapping, an astronomer with the NRC’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, located just south of Penticton in White Lake. “I saw one just a few weeks ago myself. I was actually outside looking for the cat and happened to look up and see it. It is just a reminder to people to look up at the sky every once and awhile.”

Sightings were recently reported in the past few days and weeks in several areas in the southern portion of B.C. and into Washington State to the American Meteor Society website amsmeteors.org, saying it took their breath away.

Tapping said typically what people see is a meteorite, a tiny as a grain of sand that can be travelling up to 100,000 kilometres per hour streaking across the sky. He said a fireball, which can be the size of a baseball and larger, is much more noticeable causing a flash in the sky.

“Some are made of stone, solid iron or nickel and sometimes ice. It really is the texture of a cigarette ash holding it all together,” he said.

Tapping added that while we orbit around in a nice, orderly, circular fashion, fireballs are more elliptical in that they orbit out to the sun, way out into space and then cross back into the Earth’s orbit.

“On occasion the little bits of material all collides and can grow bigger and bigger, just like how the planets came together as lumps of stuff colliding. Then it crosses our orbit and we may see it, or it even may hit our ground,” said Tapping.

A network of cameras across North America can sometimes help provide information on a meteor or fireball as to which direction it is going and how fast.

Tapping said there are other things at this time of year that are a little easier to catch if you look up.

“It is worth keeping your eye on the Eastern horizon for the planet Jupiter. If you have a pair binoculars you can most likely get a good view of it on a clear night. You will see its biscuit coloured rings. I saw it while on the back deck a few days ago. The four largest moons hanging just like beads on a wire,” said Tapping. “It is spectacular. Some people can even see it with the naked eye.”

Just Posted

Young PIB man skips jail time for grad party assault

Aaron Jack-Kroeger was sentenced to a 15-month conditional sentence in Penticton’s courthouse

Angels at The Mule

Penticton nightclub introduces angel shots for safety

Honesty turns to harsher jail sentence for Penticton man

Jakob Holmes kicked a cop in the face while she was on the ground after she attempted to arrest him

Update: Fire at Osoyoos business believed to have started on lower level

A fire started on Sunday night at the East Indian Meat Shop and fruit stand

Tagger causes $30,000 damage

Penticton looking for help finding person responsible for graffiti

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Dryer explosion at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Most Read