On Monday, Dec. 12th, at approximately 6:04 or 6:05 PM EST, I saw the Selwyn Fireball in the sky! Researchers at the University of Western Ontario named it based on the probable location of debris from the meteorite, which they estimated as near the community of Selwyn, Ontario, Canada.

In the days after I saw the spectacle, I found out Prof. Peter Brown was looking for eyewitnesses. They have camera footage from equipment set up around Ontario for just such events, but obviously with science, the more knowledge the better. So I emailed Prof. Brown the following account:

(I XXXed out my street details here, because I don’t people tracking me down for autographs 🙂

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My cousin sent me a link to the CBC news article where it says your department wants to hear from anyone who witnessed the event.

Well, I did.

Here’s my story (I’ll try to be as detailed as possible):

I live near the corner of XXX and XXX in the heart of Toronto, Ontario. At about 5:40 PM I placed an order for a pizza at the Pizza Hut around the corner on XXX, just west of my apartment. I picked the pizza up around 6 PM and was walking east on XXX towards XXX. I’d just crossed the street and was on the south side when a I saw a brilliant light in the sky ahead of me. The street is well-lit at night with buildings, signs and streetlights, so that gives you an idea of the intensity of the light of the fireball. It was travelling north/northeast as far as I could tell and I stopped in my tracks, mesmerized. The core of the fireball was white and breaking apart into smaller pieces. It was that piercing white like you get from igniting magnesium and almost looked like a giant roman candle. Its tail was a gold and orange shower glittering behind it and behind the fragments. The buildings are low in that area and as it reached the other side, I jogged ahead, not taking my eyes off it, not wanting to lose it behind the buildings. The white light faded into yellow, then orange, then disappeared completely. The tail dissipated a moment later and I stood looking up to see if there was anymore fragments coming in, but there was not as far as I could see. No one else was around in my immediate vicinity, so I stood alone with my pizza pondering what I’d just witnessed in the span of about ten seconds. It was thrilling and all I could muster was “wow”. I walked home, hopped on Facebook and posted the following:

” Just saw a shooting star tear across sky! It was unlike any I’d seen before. It was a like a brilliant silver and gold firecracker, with tail that stretched for ten seconds. I’m still in awe! That was amazing! No wonder the ancients thought these were signs from above. That was just dazzling! “

Like ·  · Monday at 6:15pm

Given it took about ten minutes to get back to my apartment, put the pizza down and compose this message, hitting “Post” at 6:15 PM, I have no doubt what I saw was the fireball you’re researching and that my immediate recollection was as fresh in my mind as it ever would be. I spent the walk home picturing it in my mind, trying not to lose the image. As an artist, I have an eye for detail and something as exquisite as seeing that fireball was important for me to accurately relate. I haven’t watched any footage and have only read a few other descriptions, which vary a little from my own sighting. I did not see any other colours (blue or green or red) as it came down, which other observers I’ve read describe. Maybe it was my vantage point (among city lights) or the timing of what I saw. I don’t rightly know. I do remember thinking, “This is a meteor! There’re no buildings high enough out here to shoot a firework off like this!” Then, as I saw it fragment, I thought, “Those pieces are going to come down in a populated area!” I could not gauge the distances and sizes well, as it in the sky and not knowing the size of the object, I couldn’t tell how high it was. I thought in the moment that it was lower then the news is reporting, that the fragments would hit north of the city somewhere. I pictured someone finding the smoking rock in their backyard. I also thought about the Tunguska Blast of 1908, that devastated rural Russia and thought, “If that had been a rock *that* size, the destruction would be incredible.” I hope someone finds a piece of it.

I saw the little orange dots continuing on their trajectory as the fireball itself died. I have no doubt those super-heated fragments survived the descent somewhere.

If you have any questions about what I saw, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m more than happy to answer anything. You can reach me at this email.

Patrick Lemieux, BAA

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I’ve since learned that a fragment hit an SUV in Grimsby, Ontario, in the Niagara region, which was along the flight path of the fireball, but south of where I saw it, which means that bit broke off before passed over Toronto.

I can still picture the meteorite coming in over the city. It really was quite a sight.

I’m glad I ordered that pizza.

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