Fireball Events

The Tagish Lake Fireball and Meteorite [18-Jan-2000]

Eye Witness Accounts


Approximately 70 eyewitnesses of the fireball and resulting dust cloud were interviewed.  The Fireball was generally described as a multicoloured object with a tail; the only artist rendition looks much like other photographed fireballs.  The fireball produced a spectacular dust trail which was visible for ~2 hours in the local area as it drifted towards the southeast, pushed by high altitude winds.  These same clouds are believed to be responsible for a spectacular display of noctilucent clouds seen from Edmonton Alberta during evening twilight later that day (seen here).

Eye witnesses placed the duration of the fireball at ~15 seconds, which is consistent with repeat-of-actions and other indications of a slow fireball.  The brightest of the two terminal flares was described as lighting up the landscape to ten times brighter than daylight with a bluish to greenish light.  As is typical, approximately one in ten witnesses described sounds simultaneous to the fireball, which is presumed to represent an electrophonic effect.  Witnesses also often described smells associated with the fireball including both prompt and delayed effects.  Smells were frequently described as sulphurous, although hot metal and rock were also mentioned.  Prompt occurrences of smells came from distances as large as 100 km from the ground projection of the fireball.

Ground shaking detonations were widely recorded by seismographs and followed the fireball by several minutes, but were generally of short duration.