Skygazers spot mysterious flaming object during Sunday’s lunar eclipse

Skygazers spot mysterious flaming object during Sunday’s lunar eclipse

University of Victoria astronomer explains the “glowing object”

UPDATED: A number of online accounts have since reported seeing a meteor impact on the moon during the eclipse, but it cannot be confirmed if this is the object referenced below.

A red moon wasn’t the only thing igniting the sky Sunday night.

Black Press editor Don Descoteau and his partner were out looking at the Super Blood Wolf Moon in front of their Saanich home when they spotted something else unusual in the southern skies.

RELATED: Shots of the lunar eclipse from Victoria and beyond

“I happened to glance south over the housetops and saw this other object glowing bright red,” Descoteau said. “From our angle It seemed to hover for a bit, then all of a sudden there was a huge flaming tail that came off it. It fell straight down after that. I thought it might be someone’s drone blowing up, but other News readers indicated it was a meteor.”

When Descoteau tweeted about what he saw through the Victoria News Twitter account, many commented that they too noticed the flaming object.

University of Victoria astronomer Karun Thanjavur explained the “glowing object” was likely a meteorite – a pebble-sized piece of space rock shooting across the sky.

Meteorites, he said, are in the sky every night but we don’t typically see them because they are small and fast, disappearing from human view after only one to two seconds.

“Because people were looking up, the chances of seeing [a meteorite] were higher,” he said. “They are happening every night.”

Thanjavur said because the eclipse darkened the moon, any action happening in the sky – like meteorites – would be especially visible.

RELATED: Hundreds enjoy lunar eclipse through UVic telescopes

In the days following the eclipse, reports showed up up on social media from people saying they saw a “bright flash on the moon.”

Many live feeds picked up the flash, including one from York, Pennsylvania.

It may have been a separate space event from the one Descoteau witnessed, but National Geographic has since reported that the flash recorded by many was likely the result of impact from a meteor hitting the moon.


 

nina.grossman@blackpress.ca