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Meteor spotted in southern Ontario was the size of a small car

A meteor spotted over southern Ontario on Sunday was the size of a small car, the American Meteor Society told CityNews.

“It was a daytime fireball, which is a meteor that occurs during the daytime and rivals the brightness of the sun,” AMS operations manager Mike Hankey told CityNews on Monday.

It was only able to be seen because of its large size, Hankey said.

The meteor “caused some sonic booms, which is an indicator that it penetrated deep into the atmosphere, and it’s also an indication that it was very big.”

It likely terminated just south of Belleville-Quinte West. Click here to see a map of the meteor’s trajectory.

On average, approximately 80 per cent of the meteor would have burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere. The pieces that remained will likely range in size from dust to a man’s fist.

The larger pieces, though rare, do pose a danger.

“If it hit a house it would probably punch through the roof,” Hankey said.

People who live in the area were quick to contact the AMS, with Hankey saying they had received 84 reports of this meteor in the past 24 hours.

Hankey is asking anyone who saw anything to report it online, or by using the AMS app.

Is it related to the annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower, which is expected to peak this week?

This event was most likely not related to that, Hankey said.

“There’s a lot of meteor showers throughout the year. Fireballs like this aren’t necessarily associated with meteor showers.”

How do you know if you’ve found a meteorite? Check out the following seven tips, courtesy of NASA.

1. Metal
Most meteorites contain at least some metal. Do you see the metal shining on a broken surface? If so, you might have a meteorite.

2. Density
Those meteorites that do have a lot of metal tend to be very dense compared to regular rocks. Do you have something very dense such that it could be a meteorite? But remember that not all meteorites are dense.

3. Magnetic Properties
A lot of meteorites contain shiny iron-nickel metal grains or consist largely of iron-nickel metal. The iron in the metal attracts a magnet. Is a magnet attracted to the surface of your sample? If so, you might have a meteorite. But remember that a lot of normal rocks on the Earth are also magnetic. So, just because something is magnetic, it doesn’t mean that it is a meteorite.

4. Chondrules
Some primitive meteorites have little round pieces of stony material in them. These little round pieces are called chondrules. Some sedimentary and volcanic rocks can have spherical particles that look somewhat like chondrules. Does your sample contain chondrules? If it does, you might have a meteorite.

5. Fusion crust
When a meteorite is falling through the atmosphere, it begins to heat up because of the extreme compression of the atmosphere. The meteor gets so hot that the outer surface begins to melt, which produces a thin black/brown coating on the surface of the rock called a fusion crust.

Iron meteorites may show evidence of melted metal on their surface, but this is less common. Fusion crusts are present on freshly fallen meteorites, but the crusts are fragile and can weather away from samples that fell a long time ago.

Small patches of fusion crust can sometimes remain in hollows of the sample. Does your sample have a fusion crust? If so, you have a meteorite.

6. Regmaglypt texture/thumbprints
When the surface of the meteorite begins to melt during entry into the atmosphere, some areas of the meteorites are eroded by the melting more than others, almost like someone is taking little scoops of material out. This leaves a bunch of small dents in the surface of the rock, making it look like someone put thumbprints into clay.

The surface of most meteorite samples have these thumbprints called “regmaglypts,” which can vary in size from less than a centimeter up to as much as 10 centimeters. Does your sample have Regmaglypt texture/thumbprints? If so, you have a meteorite.

7. Streak
Most meteorites won’t leave a streak, but the surfaces of some meteorites might leave a reddish streak if they have been oxidized (rusted). If you drag your sample across this “streak plate,” and it leaves a red/orange line, then the sample is probably a common mineral on the Earth called hematite.

If the sample is magnetic and leaves a black or gray streak, then it might be the common terrestrial iron-oxide mineral called magnetite. Does your sample cause a streak on a “streak plate?” If not, you may have a meteorite.