12/14/2011 11:32 EST | Updated 02/13/2012 05:12 EST

Ontario university astronomers capture basketball-sized meteor on video

LONDON, Ont. - Astronomers from the University of Western Ontario have released rare video of a meteor that travelled through the evening sky east of Toronto earlier this week.

Although the bright fireball appeared near the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower, astronomers say it's unrelated to that shower.

Six cameras belonging to Western's Southern Ontario Meteor Network captured the slow-moving fireball shortly after 6 p.m. on Monday.

The meteor — estimated to be no bigger than a basketball — was first spotted over Lake Erie then moved toward the north-northeast ending just south of the town of Selwyn, Ont.

Astronomers say it likely dropped small meteorites east of Selwyn near the eastern end of Upper Stony Lake.

Only about a dozen meteorite falls have had their orbits measured by cameras, and scientists say each new event adds significantly to the understanding of meteors.

Researchers at Western and the Royal Ontario Museum are interested in hearing from anyone who may have witnessed or recorded the event, or who may have found fragments of the freshly fallen meteorite.

"Finding a meteorite from a fireball captured by video is equivalent to a planetary sample return mission," said Peter Brown, the director of Western's Centre for Planetary and Space Exploration.

"We know where the object comes from in our solar system and can study it in the lab," Brown said.


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