An ancient remnant from the formation of the solar system may have lit up the sky over Kingston this week.

The Whig-Standard and a renowned local astronomer received reports of a glowing object falling to earth Monday evening.

The skywatchers reported seeing what appeared to be a glowing object in the northwest sky that was plunging toward the ground around 10 p.m.

Jonathan Craig was driving westbound on Highway 401, passing through Kingston on his way home to Toronto, when he and his girlfriend spotted a bright object in the sky to their right, north of the highway.

"I said, 'What is that?' and before I could say it looks like a plane, it went straight down," Craig said yesterday. "It looked like it spiralled down."

Craig said he has seen many meteors.

"I have seen tons of shooting stars and this was weird," he said.

Astronomer and author Terence Dickinson, who lives in Yarker, said he had a call from a man who reported a similar observation at the same time Monday night.

Dickinson believes the sightings are of a larger version of what most people call a shooting star or falling star.

"There are always random bolide meteors that look like something flaming, falling from the sky," Dickinson said.

A bolide meteor is a fragment of material that might be as large as a golf ball plunging through Earth's atmosphere.

"This stuff is ancient," he said. "It's from the formation of the solar system.

"Certainly it could be mistaken for something crashing."

In most cases, these large shooting stars burn up as they pass through the atmosphere and nothing is left to strike the ground, Dickinson said. As the particle enters the atmosphere, air friction causes it to glow and give off a trail of gas and debris.

Dickinson said often the streaking object disappears behind a tree line, adding to the perception it is a plane crashing to the ground. "It looked like it went out of view [behind the trees]," Craig said. In rare cases, the object is large enough that a portion survives the fall. A piece that comes to Earth is described as a meteorite. Finding a remnant would be valuable.

"It's a little chunk of primordial material," Dickinson said.

Three weeks ago, the physics and astronomy department at the University of Western Ontario in London captured video footage of a similar sighting.

The department says the footage shows a meteor crashing to Earth near Parry Sound. No one has yet been able to find remnants of the object.