Videos captured a fireball flashing across Toronto’s skyline before hitting Earth near Niagara Falls

Toronto skyline

Toronto skylinePierre Ogeron/Getty Images

  • A fireball lit up a neighborhood and passed over Toronto early Saturday morning.

  • The object’s impact on Earth was predicted, marking the sixth occurrence in history.

  • The European Space Agency said such small object detection technology is improving.

A vibrant ball of fire that streaked across the night sky in the early hours of Saturday morning passed over the skyline of Toronto, Canada, before colliding with Earth near Niagara Falls.

The fireball was captured in several videos, including a showing that it appeared to pass the city’s CN Tower.

Another videocaptured by a security camera at the front door of a home, the fireball lit up the entire sky above the neighborhood before whizzing past.

The European Space Agency said the event was only the sixth time in history that the impact of a space object on Earth has been successfully predicted. The agency said that while most asteroid collisions with Earth are only discovered after the fact based on evidence such as craters, the number of times a space rock is detected before it hits is increasing.

In fact, all six detections have occurred since 2008, according to ESA, which said the continued improvement of telescopes for scanning the sky is likely to make the detection of smaller objects – which often strike Earth – more common.

Large asteroids, on the other hand, are much easier to spot.

Saturday’s fireball was anticipated by amateur and professional astronomers in the hours before it hit. The Minor Planet Center, which monitors asteroids, said a fast-moving object was detected by the Mount Lemmon Survey near Tucson, Arizona, triggering a “imminent impact warning.”

The MPC said seven observatories could see the object before it entered Earth’s atmosphere at about 3:27 a.m. ET over Brantford, Ontario. The object was less than 1 meter in size, according to the ESA.

The term fireball is used to refer to exceptionally bright meteors, commonly called shooting stars, that can be seen over a wide area. “Objects that cause fireballs are usually not large enough to survive intact passage through Earth’s atmosphere, although fragments or meteorites are sometimes found on the ground,” NASA said.

Mike Hankey of the American Meteor Society told The New York Times that the possible meteorites — debris from a space object — from Saturday’s event could be discovered near Niagara Falls.

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