Meteor lights up the winter skies

Denise Titian, February 22, 2018

A meteor was seen from various coastal communities on Feb. 18. Pictured is another meteor seen over the south Australian desert in 2011. (C M Handler/Wikimedia Commons photo)

Vancouver Island — 

It happened so fast that Allison Vincent of Kyuquot couldn’t be sure what she had just seen. It was a brilliant green light that streaked across the sky, seemingly above Walter’s Island, across the bay from her Kyuquot home.

“I was watching a movie but something made me turn – I don’t know if it was a sound; and I looked out the window, seen something bright green so I jumped up and …watched it go through the sky and then disappear,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa.

Her first thought was that it was fireworks but something didn’t seem quite right about that theory. The bright green light had a long tail as it streaked across the sky and disappeared as suddenly as it appeared.

According to Vincent, the bright green streaking light was so long that it appeared to stretch across the sky. And when it disappeared, it did so instantaneously. It didn’t explode or crash into anything or fade into oblivion.

“It literally disappeared. It didn’t end, it just stopped,” said Vincent. “It was amazing, I thought someone was shooting fireworks off right outside my house because it was brilliant green and big …I’ve never seen anything that colour before – not even fireworks.

Scared at first, Vincent took to social media to see if anyone else saw the phenomenon. It wasn’t long before confirmation came, but not from Kyuquot. Vincent was hearing from people in places like Ahousaht and Gold River. More people chimed in on social media reporting that the green streak was seen in Courtenay and in Port Alberni.

Over in Ahousaht, at about the same time, Hilda Samuel happened to be walking past her bedroom window when she saw the green flash in the sky. She too thought it was fireworks at first, which seemed to be falling from the sky.

“I opened my curtain to look and see if it would happen again but never did. So I asked on Facebook if anyone was firing fireworks or (if) anyone else saw the green light,” said Samuel.

A resident of Port Alberni also saw the streak of light and asked on a social media group if anyone else had seen it. Someone replied that it was a meteor.

According to a meteoroid can be dust particles or fragments from a comet or an asteroid.

“Whenever a meteoroid enters earth's atmosphere, it generates a flash of light called a meteor, or shooting star. High temperatures caused by friction between the meteoroid and gasses in the earth’s atmosphere heats the meteoroid to the point where it starts glowing. The streak of light is the trail of the burning hot air, or sometimes glowing material, which the meteoroid leaves in its wake,” reads the Timeanddate website.

The American Meteor Society received dozens of reports of the green fireball meteor sightings from southwestern British Columbia, including Vancouver Island, to Washington State and as far south as Coverdale, Oregon. The event was recorded at 8:55 p.m. on Feb. 18.

Most meteors pass harmlessly through earth’s atmosphere. Those that don’t crash to the earth’s surface; the pieces are then called meteorites.