Giant Fireball

Meteor's Fiery Tail Scares Ball Fans

The Calgary Herald
Tuesday, May 29, 1962


A giant meteor with a flaming tail cast an eerie glow in the sky over British Columbia, Alberta, Washington State and Idaho Monday Night.

The spectacle caused momentary panic among fans at a baseball game in Vancouver. Sightings were also reported at Victoria, Calgary, Fort Assiniboine, Alta., Spokane, Wash., and Lewiston, Idaho.

There were as many descriptions as there were people who watched the huge fireball streak across the sky in a southerly direction.

Hundreds of Vancouver residents jammed switchboards at the airport, weather office and RCAF headquarters with reports of a flaming airliner, an off-course rocket or a comet.

But authoritative observers said it was a meteor.

Research scientist Frank Hughes of nearby North Surrey, said he has observed about 200 meteors and "this one was the largest I have seen."


It was on a 20-degree angle from the earth, about 10 degrees in width and traversed about 30 degrees in five seconds," said Mr. Hughes who did meteor observation work for the British Astronomical Association.

"It was glowing with a white brightness like a magnesium flare," he said. "The different portions of it glowed with varying intensity."

Other descriptions were less scientific but more spectacular.

"It was as big as an aircraft hangar," said a control tower employee at Vancouver International Airport. "It was the most amazing sight I've ever seen."

He said the meteor was visible for 12 seconds and passed over at 10:43 p.m. PDT.

It seemed to burn itself out "but we might have lost it because of a cloud formation. It all happened so quickly nobody thought to grab the binoculars."

Dr. R. M. Petrie, head of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory at Victoria, said the descriptions applied to meteors but that it must have been a big one.


"This one would have to be huge to have been visible for so long or it would have burned itself out more quickly."

Dr. Petrie said it was unlikely that any fragments of the meteor reached the ground.

Fans in the third baseline bleachers at Vancouver's Capilano Stadium were the first to spot the multi-colored meteor when it appeared during the 12th inning.

They cried out in panic and Vancouver and Portland pacific Coast League players looked up from the diamond, then ran for the dugout along with the umpires.

Bluish White trail Seen Over Calgary

A bluish-green fire-ball seen by Calgary residents Monday night is believed to have been a meteorite streaking over British Columbia.

Alan McQuarrie, head of the weather bureau at McCall Field, said the meteorite may have landed somewhere in southern B.C. or the northern United States.

It was sighted in Calgary about 10:40 p.m. The weather technician on duty said he saw a round "greenish-blue" object travelling rapidly from north to south about 25 degrees above the horizon. It was leaving a "bit of a whitish trail."

Other Calgarians described the meteorite as a white or bluish-white object with a flaming tail. They said it was visible for three to five seconds.

In northern Alberta residents described the object as "a ball of blue fire with a long tail."


Hit Counter