OK lets first clear something up … the Russian meteor, pictured left, that blasted across the sky above Russia’s Ural Mountains this morning, causing explosions and smashing windows, is not related in any way to asteroid 2012 DA14 which passes the earth in the closest ever recorded fly-by of an object of its size.
Now that we have that out of the way, what is this? Well, what has just happened in Russia appears to have been very dramatic …
This morning residents of the Chelyabinsk region of Russia saw an enormous meteor streak across the sky. Car dashboard cameras captured one or more objects falling to earth.
The strike is reported to have occurred around 03:25 UTC this morning, according to the Planetary Society, just before sunrise locally. Other videos record the shockwave from the meteor—likely either a sonic boom as it entered the atmosphere and/or the sound of it breaking up:
There are reports of hundreds injured by broken glass across the region, and additional videos show apparent damage to some buildings.
It’s not entirely clear what’s caused the damage. The shockwave video shows that it was a powerful burst that could have probably shattered windows on its own, but the New York Times reports that an impact crater has been found on the outskirts of a town 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk city. Meteorites are also reported to have rained down around the city of Satka, but these reports are unconfirmed.
The strike comes as an asteroid known as 2012 DA14 is about to pass earth inside of geosynchronous orbit, but initial reports make it sound as though the meteor or meteors are unrelated. Astronomer Phil Plait says that the trajectories simply don’t appear to add up—this meteor came from a different direction. The European Space Agency’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany has tweeted that they believe the meteorite is unrelated. They’ve also posted a photo of the meteor’s vapour trail taken by Meteosat-10.
Links for more Info
Daft Claims circulating (prepare to face-palm)
Vladimir Zhirinkovsky, the leader of the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party, has lost no time at all in accusing the Americans of “testing a new weapon” against Russia.
- The original estimate of 500 injured has been revised upwards to 950
- Some wonder … “Who the heck films their journey to work?” … in fact they are quite common in Russia, Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate any insurance claims in the court of law there, so forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. In contrast, the courts accept video footage.
- The Guardian has a live blog running here with the latest updates.