Asteroid hit Canada: Map of the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

EarthSky | An asteroid hit Canada and may have dropped meteorites

An asteroid hit Canada and may have dropped meteorites

Astronomers spotted an asteroid just hours before it hits Earth on Saturday morning (November 19, 2022), near Lake Erie in Canada. It’s not the first time this year that astronomers have spotted a rock from space just hours before it hits Earth. But this time it entered Earth’s atmosphere above a populated area, crossing the skies of Toronto, Canada. So we have videos and witnesses who saw, heard and felt the impact. And astronomers said locals may be able to find meteorites from the impact.

Western University in Canada said meteorites may have reached the ground near the southern shore of Lake Ontario, mostly north of St. Catharines. Peter Brown of Western University said:

This fireball is particularly significant because the parent meteoroid was observed through a telescope before it reached the atmosphere. This makes it a rare opportunity to link an asteroid’s telescopic data to its breakup behavior in the atmosphere to better understand its internal structure.

The researchers asked residents between Port Weller and Virgil, Ontario to be on the lookout for fragments of the space rock. Brown said:

We know from camera recordings and weather radar tracking the falling fireball debris that the meteorites almost certainly hit the ground near or east of Grimsby. What we need now to complete this story is to recover some of these rocks and find out what kind of material asteroid 2022 WJ1 was made of. Sounds a lot like a sample return space mission, but in this case the sample fell on us.

Learn more about how to find meteorites. And if you find any, contact the Royal Ontario Museum at naturalhistory@rom.on.ca.

Scientists have mapped this area (in red) where meteorites from the November 19, 2022 fireball may have reached the ground. Image via Western University.

First impending impact report

Ye Quanzhia University of Maryland astronomer who studies asteroids, comets and meteors, reported on Twitter at 1:13 a.m. EST on November 19:

Looks like a space rock will fall in the Lake Erie area in about 2 hours (about 3:30 a.m. EST)

He shared the link to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies risk assessment page. The object, C8FF042, is now removed from the page because it hit Earth and is therefore no longer a threat.

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Accurate prediction

At 2:29 a.m. EST, Richard Moissl tweeted that the asteroid is expected to impact around 8:26 a.m. UTC, which translates to 3:26 a.m. EST. It turned out to be incredibly accurate, as cameras around Toronto captured the bolide at 3:25 a.m. and 3:26 a.m. The CN Tower camera in Toronto was one of the cameras that saw the nearly horizontal entrance to the asteroid.

Asteroid Witnesses

Luckily, the space rock was less than a meter (about 3 feet) tall. The impact should have been around Brantford, Ontario. It is north of Lake Erie; west of Buffalo, New York; east of Detroit and southwest of Toronto. With such a crowded area, many people were lucky enough to see the fireball entering the atmosphere. People on Twitter reported seeing the bright flash of light, along with the sound of atmospheric entry and even shaking, likely sonic boom. Twitter user @TimsDoubleD said:

I heard it and felt it almost as if my house had moved. I thought a generator had exploded nearby.

Twitter user @SchefflerKen said:

It would have been interesting to see, but at least I could hear it. I had woken up for some reason and a few seconds later the house cracked like it does when hit by a gust of wind, then there was a muffled rumble for two or three seconds.

Some observers reported the fireball at magnitude -10 to -20.

These few hours of delay were enough for some to capture C8FF042 with telescopes.

Have you seen him? You can report the fireball to the American Meteor Society here.

The asteroid now named 2022 WJ1

David Rankin discovered asteroid C8FF042, which the Minor Planet Center has since named WJ1. Information about the newly discovered asteroid circulated on the Minor Planet Mailing List (MPML). This said:

Bill Gray has the point of impact on November 19, 2022 at 8:26:54.47 UTC, lat +43.12309, lon W80.26416, which is directly over Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

Sam Deen on the MPML said:

The object will have a very grazing impact of only about 10-12 degrees, and should move WSW to ENE between Detroit and Buffalo. We should probably expect a pretty spectacular light show, given the low angle and high population of the area.

More views on Twitter

Conclusion: On November 19, 2022, a small asteroid hit Canada just hours after its discovery. Researchers ask residents to be on the lookout for meteorites.


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