• An asteroid was discovered just three hours before entering the atmosphere
  • There were some videos of the resulting fireball event
  • Some meteorite fragments may have fallen to the ground

An "Earth impactor" asteroid was discovered just hours before it was bound to enter the atmosphere. This marks only the sixth time in history that this has happened.

Asteroid C8FF042 was last spotted at 11:35 p.m. ET on Nov. 18. Warnings were quickly sent out to the astronomical community, the International Meteor Organization (IMO) said in a release. This gave other observatories a chance to spot the asteroid before it entered the atmosphere above the Great Lakes region just three hours later.

"2008 TC3, 2014 AA, 2018 LA, 2019 MO and 2022 EB5. These asteroids have in common the fact that they are Earth impactors discovered before they actually entered the Earth atmosphere," noted the IMO.

The new asteroid, now designated 2022 WJ1, joins the list as the sixth asteroid to be spotted before entering the atmosphere, according to the IMO. It was discovered by David Rankin using the telescope at Mount Lemmon's peak.

"(T)hanks to this fast reaction, seven observatories were able to record the small object coming from the asteroid belt before it entered the atmosphere," noted the IMO. "Things clearly evolved in the good way since the first asteroid discovered before Earth impact, in 2008!"

There were quite a few who got a chance to spot the resulting fireball. A video shared by the European Space Agency, for instance, shows the bright object streaking across the sky as captured by a camera in Canada.

Viewers of CityNews Toronto also shared footage of the fireball streaking above the city skies, while others also reported hearing a loud boom.

So far, the American Meteor Society (AMS) has received 54 reports about the fireball, with quite a few of them coming from various areas in Ontario and Pennsylvania. There were also a few reports from New York, Maryland, and even Indiana.

Some meteorites may have landed on the ground, according to NASA/Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science (ARES). If there were, then the fragments may have landed somewhere along Ontario Lake.

"This was a probable meteorite fall east of Grimsby, Ontario, Canada which occurred 19 Nov 2022 at 0827 UTC," noted NASA/ARES. "Most of this fall landed in Lake Ontario but small masses might be found east of Grimsby and large masses might have landed near McNab."

These are, however, initial drafts, and may be subject to updates in the coming days.

Image: Artist illustration of an asteroid heading for the Earth Pixabay