All across #British Columbia yesterday morning, social media was lit up with reports of a meteor flying over south central British Columbia. NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which tracks these objects using United States government sensors, reported the object entering the atmosphere over a remote mountain range between the towns of Creston and Nelson. The exact location, given as longitude 49.3N and latitude 116.9W placed the entry directly over the Next Creek Service Road at the base of Mt. Burnett. Sightings were mainly reported over the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, with additional reports coming from Idaho and Washington states in the U.S.A.

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Sightings were reported as far away as Saskatchewan and Montana.

Unidentified Flying Object

While CNEOS identifies this occurrence as a "fireball" the exact nature of the object is unknown. Residents of the West Kootenays quickly took to Facebook to share sightings and try to identify what had occurred. At the time of writing, a landing point had not been identified , and in fact , 90-95% of all meteors completely vaporize before hitting the earth. The #American Meteor Society received almost 200 reports of this incident from both the U.S.A. and Canada, and places the last known visibility of the incident at Meadow Creek, British Columbia.

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For those who are interested in seeing more these types of occurrences, you can check out #The American Meteor Society's 2017 meteor shower list on their website.

What is a Meteor?

Meteors start off as meteoroids. Meteoroids are pieces of rock that have broken off of asteroids (larger pieces of rock), that travel in orbits throughout our solar system. When the meteoroids enter the earth's atmosphere they vaporize and become meteors, seen as bright flashes or streaks of light in the sky. If a meteor does not fully vaporize when entering the earth's atmosphere, then one or several meteorites may be found at the crash point.

Many Nelson area residents reported hearing an explosion or loud bang at the time of seeing the light, the noise was most likely caused by the meteor entering the atmosphere rather then the result of a crash landing. Even though most meteors fully vaporize before hitting the earth, thousands of meteorites hit the earth every year, making these types of occurrences a relatively common phenomenon.

British Columbia has been fighting a record number of Wildfires this summer and many people have been expressing concerns that the meteor may have sparked new fires in this vulnerable area. As of the writing of this article, West Kootenay Wildfire Services have not reported any new fires as a result of this occurrence. As with almost all meteor sightings, no injuries or damages have been reported.