Videos captured a fireball flashing across the Toronto skyline before it struck Earth near Niagara Falls

Videos captured a fireball flashing across the Toronto skyline before it struck Earth near Niagara Falls
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 time in history that has occurred.

A vibrant fireball that flashed 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 one that showed it appearing to pass by the city's CN Tower.

Another video, taken from a security camera at the front door of a home, showed the fireball light up the entire sky over the neighborhood before zooming past.

The European Space Agency said the event marked only the sixth time in history the impact of a space object with Earth was successfully predicted. The agency said while most asteroid collisions with Earth are only discovered after the fact from evidence like craters, the number of occasions in which a space rock is detected before it strikes is growing.

In fact, all six detections have taken place since 2008, according to ESA, which said continued improvement in sky scanning telescopes will likely make detection of smaller objects — which frequently 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 struck. The Minor Planet Center, which monitors asteroids, said a fast-moving object was detected by the Mount Lemmon Survey near Tucson, Arizona, triggering a "warning of an imminent impact."

The MPC said seven observatories were able to spot the object before it entered the Earth's atmosphere at around 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 causing fireballs are usually not large enough to survive passage through the Earth's atmosphere intact, although fragments, or meteorites, are sometimes recovered on the ground," according to NASA.

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