Meteors Spotted All Over the World

The Chebarkul Meteorite explodes over Russia.

The Chebarkul Meteorite explodes over Russia.

Just a few days ago, on February 15th, reports came in about a giant explosion in the sky over Russia. Shortly after, there were reports of fireballs in the sky over California and Cuba.  All of this happened on the same day that an asteroid, called 2012 DA14,  similar in size to a small building (about 30 meters) passed Earth at about a distance of about 17,000 miles (a tiny distance astronomically speaking).

Was there any connection between this sudden burst of astrological activity? Scientists agree that it was just a coincidence. Or rather, that events like these are fairly common, and there is tremendous amount of debris floating through space which frequently comes near or impacts Earth.

As author Don Nardo points out in his book Extreme Threats: Asteroids and Comets, scientists believe there are as many as 1 billion near-Earth objects (NEO’s) in space: NEO’s are space debris (asteroids or meteorites) whose orbits push them into the inner solar system, near the Earth. Though the solar system–space–is almost inconceivably huge, the chance of these objects impacting Earth does exist, even if it’s small.

The meteorite's crash caused damage throughout the region.

The meteorite’s crash caused damage throughout the region.

The meteorite that exploded in the sky over Russia, called the Chebarkul Meteorite after the lake where most of the debris landed, is currently getting the most attention, and for good reason. The meteorite is one of the largest space objects to impact the Earth in nearly a century, when a similar meteor exploded over the Tunguska River in Siberia in 1908.  The Chebarkul Meteorite also caused some 1,200 injuries-mostly from broken glass blasted towards people by the massive impact of the meteorite’s explosion. Cameras from bystanders throughout Russia caught gripping footage of the event.

Curiosity about the meteorite abounds. Some people are even trying to profit off it. Russians in the Chebarkul vicinity have been searching for fragments of the meteorite, which they then sell to collectors and scientists for hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.

To learn more about asteroids, comets, and meteors, check out Extreme Threats: Asteroids and Comets by Don Nardo (ISBN# 978-1-59935-121-6) from your local library, or purchase it from Morgan Reynolds Publishing. For more about other threats facing the world, check out Morgan Reynolds Publishing Extreme Threats series.

-Josh Barrer

Associate Editor

Published in: on February 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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