Meteor Explodes Over South Australia; Lit Up Sky, Shook Homes
Six days after a suspected meteor shook Streaky Bay and very briefly lit up parts of South Australia’s night sky, the event remains the talk of the town.
CCTV images of the spectacle show a bright light in the sky, lasting a couple of seconds, just before midnight on Friday, with locals reporting a thunder-like rumble a few minutes later.
Those lucky enough to have witnessed the event have described an “orange fireball” which could be seen from across the West Coast and Eyre Peninsula and as far afield as Elliston, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Riverton and even Mount Barker, near Adelaide.
<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/224589273" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
Kid falls out of bed, dogs go ‘berserk’
Luke Sidler was at his wife Sharni’s 40th birthday party, sitting at a campfire outside Streaky Bay, when they saw the light.
“I heard something for a start and the night went to daylight,” he said.
“It was really, really bright. Like, so bright that you could hardly even look at this thing and next minute, the dogs are going just berserk from the hissing noise from it.
“And it was like a big flame coming out of the sky, straight towards us; I reckon it could have only landed a kilometre away from us.
“It was just like cooking a steak on a barbie, like a sizzling sound.”
He said the noise was about ten times louder than a barbecue and they had to lock their dogs in the car so they wouldn’t run away.
But it was not just the bright sky or the sound that made the Sidler’s experience unique — Luke said they felt an impact and one of their children fell out of their bed in the campervan.
“We were actually sitting on deckchairs… and it actually moved us off our deckchairs, like we could feel a bounce,” he said.
<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/224602599" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
A caller to local radio named Daniel, who lives at Granites, south of Streaky Bay, said he was driving towards Sceale Bay and the light was like nothing he had ever experienced or seen before.
“The whole sky lit up out of the windscreen [so] I ducked and couldn’t figure out what was going on,” he said.
“I though it was lightning or something like that, but it was light — bright, bright blue and to the right of me I visualised something, like a shooting star or something like that.
“It seemed like it was coming down, but as I’ve spoken to other people it could have been coming towards you because it’s hard to distinguish.
“It must have been quite close I think. It could have ended up in Bairds Bay or something like that”.
Daniel said the suspected meteor had got the whole west coast of South Australia talking.
“People heard rumbles… some people said like a plane coming down,” he said.
“People were going outside their houses, walking around the streets with torches… they said windows were shaking, rumbling, dogs were going crackers, thinking a car had had an accident, a house had exploded or a plane had gone down or something.
“They said it was quite extraordinary, the sound they heard… but I was driving on the corrugated [road] and didn’t hear anything.”
‘Just bonkers’ say residents
Teresa Gameau lives in the Koppio Hills said her husband saw the light first, when it was smaller, but both of them saw the sky light up.
“All of a sudden the sky was like a massive explosion right across the sky and it was a blue-green colour,” she said.
“We went rushing outside and we could smell what smelled like burning sparklers. Yeah, it was just bonkers.”
Matthew Graziano works for HPS Transport and shared a video on his Facebook page showing footage from one of the truck’s hard-wired dash cameras.
“It’s pretty awesome footage. I saw it happen on Friday night [and] I was very happy when our driver called us the following day to report it was in clear view of her truck,” he said.
No little green men expected says astronomer
Astronomer Simon O’Toole, from the Australian Astronomical Observatory, said the unidentified flying object responsible for the spectacular show was likely a meteor, not space junk.
“A very small bit of icy, rocky material. There’s a lot of that sort of material out there in the solar system,” he said.
“These things — they come in quickly, they burn up quickly but they can still have a big effect.”
Dr O’Toole said the meteor may only have been about 10 centimetres across, and the rumbling noise was caused by a sonic boom.
“It was going faster than the speed of sound. The speed is typically around 20 kilometres per second [so] pretty fast,” he said.
“The speed of sound is about 330 to 340 metres per second, so we’re talking a few hundred times faster than the speed of sound [and] the shockwave from that is what led to the vibrations.”
He said if it had been space junk, the flash of light would have lasted much longer, perhaps around 30 seconds.
When asked whether the Eyre Peninsula could expect to see a colony of little green men any time soon, Dr O’Toole was sceptical.
“Very, very unlikely. Unfortunately, as fun as that would be.”
Emma Pedler and Daniel Keane