Saturday, May 2nd 2020, 5:00 pm - The flash was briefly as bright as a welding torch.
A British Columbia man managed to snap some dashcam footage of a very bright meteor streaking through the skies Thursday, clearly visible in broad daylight.
Al Dinis' car was stopped at an intersection in Burnaby when he saw the bright streak, reaching from southwest to northeast. Checking his dashcam later, he confirmed it was a meteor.
He told The Weather Network the flash seemed briefly as bright as a welding torch.
"You become speechless, because you never expected to see anything like that, right?" he said. "It was just impressive."
A meteor is the proper name for the flash of light produced when a chunk of space rock enters Earth's atmosphere. These space rocks are commonly called meteoroids.
A primer on meteoroids, meteors and meteorites. Credits: Scott Sutherland/NASA JPL (Asteroids Ida & Dactyl)/NASA Earth Observatory (Blue Marble)
As Weather Network science writer Scott Sutherland explains:
"When one of these meteoroids hits the top of the atmosphere, it is travelling at speeds of tens to hundreds of thousands of kilometres per hour, and it very quickly compresses the air in its path, so much so that the air heats up to glow, white-hot! This glowing is the 'meteor' that we see streaking through the air, high above the ground. All the while, the air is pressing back on the meteoroid, causing it to slow down, and sometimes exerting enough force on the meteoroid to shatter it! Once the meteoroid slows to the point where it can no longer heat the air to the point of glowing, the meteor winks out."
When a meteor shatters, it can scatter fragments, called meteorites, below, as is believed to have happened when a similar meteor broke apart over southern Ontario last summer.
With files from Scott Sutherland.