By Melissa Sheil
HILLS Facebook community forums were abuzz on Sunday night as residents speculated over the source of a loud booming noise at around 8pm.
Though theories of UFOs, quarry blasts and special ops assignments were aplenty, the answer was not too far off.
Curtin University’s Space Science and Technology Centre have reported that their Desert Fireball Network cameras in the Wheatbelt picked up a meteor exploding high in the atmosphere.
The boom reached the ears of those as far as Brigadoon, Gidgegannup and Lesmurdie.
Perth Observatory administrator Matthew Woods said it was rare the meteor was heard by locals.
“The earth gets hit by tonnes of material per year but the last one we actually heard was in 2018,” he said.
“Meteors like this happen occasionally but usually it is over water, so we don’t get to hear it.
“The bolide [an extremely bright meteor] likely exploded when it entered the atmosphere because it was very cold and the friction from the movement caused the surface to melt and the gases built up inside became too much.”
Desert Fireball Network lead scientist Hadrien Devillepoix said that though the meteor may have disintegrated when it hit the atmosphere, there is a chance debris could be found.
“Based on the sonic booms reported near the Perth metro area, there is a good chance a meteorite might have made it to the ground,” he said.
“However, to precisely determine the trajectory of the fireball, we need at least two pictures to triangulate it.”
Due to heavy clouds, only one camera in Katanning was able to capture an image of the meteor.
Anyone who may have seen the meteor is invited to report the sighting via the Fireballs in the Sky app or website.