It wasn't a bird and it wasn't a plane. Was it a meteor?

Around 8 p.m. Saturday night a great, big ball of yellowy-white light streaked from east to west across the darkening sky.

Astronomer David Dodge said that the fireball was probably a meteor - basically a rock falling from space.

"It probably wasn't a piece of space junk. The reason why I saw that is that it was going from east to west, and 99.9 per cent of space stuff sent up there is not going east to west."

He said meteors fall to earth every day.

Most burn up before they enter the earth's atmosphere.

Saturday's meteor was notable only because it happened over a populated area Some eye-witnesses, however, had their doubts.

Steve Salsman, was out on his deck when he saw the white ball of light hurtling through the dusky night air.

"It was at about the height of an airplane and had a long red tail," he said.

When the fiery ball appeared to break up, Salsman said he automatically thought that the it might be a dead satellite re-entering the earth's atmosphere.

Another eye-witness, Miles Wishlow, also said he thought the fireball was space junk falling from the sky.

He saw a "shard" break off from the fireball.

"It looked like something man-made that was just way off-course."

The fireball itself, Wishlow said, didn't resemble anything he's seen then past.

"The shape wasn't a perfect circle," he said.

"It was so big and so low compared to the shooting stars and other meteor showers. It was a lot closer than anything I've ever seen."

Dodge said Saturday's meteor might have landed somewhere along Vancouver Island's west coast or in the Pacific Ocean - if it landed at all.

Space-enthusiasts, he said, would be hard-pressed to find a chunk of the meteor, even if it did make it to earth.

"It was something 100 km over its ground path travelling at 70 km per second," he said.

"The human eye has a tough time dealing with that and tends to go for the easy answer. It's not in our neighbour's backyard."

Dodge also pointed out that once a meteor lands on earth it is no more remarkable than a regular old rock.

The biggest difference is that space rocks get to go out in a blaze of glory.

"It was quite breathtaking. Four of us were just standing there watching it," said Wishlow.

Sue Kendall was at her Saturna Island home on the phone with her son in Vancouver when she saw the bright, fast-moving light.

"I said, 'Oh my goodness,' and he looked up and saw it too," she said. "Your brain takes a moment to process was amazing."