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First up, breaking news:

Early this morning, local time in the Ural region of Western Russia (just after midnight in these parts), near the cities of Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, a bus-sized meteor estimated to weigh about 10 tons streaked across the sky as bright as a welding-arc, entering the atmosphere at 33,000 mph and then fragmenting in a massive explosion that sent countless meteor and meteorite fragments fireballing to Earth.

The shockwave shattered windows over a wide area, damaging buildings and injuring more than 950 people in the cities of Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, and Sverdlovsk in the Russian Republic of Bashkiria and in northern Kazakhstan. At least one fragment of the huge meteor or small asteroid crashed into a Chelyabinsk zinc factory, severing the fiber-optic internet phone service. Check out this amazing video montage from several points of view:


It's not just YouTube that offers videos of the event (that's a search-query link); LiveLeak.com has a great collection of videos, too.

Here's the CNN story. Here's the Sky & Telescope Magazine story; and here's the Reuters story.

Witnesses report that the explosion was so loud it resembled an earthquake or thunder even at a great distance, and that huge trails of smoke streaked across the sky. Others reported blazing objects falling to Earth. Police in area around Chelyabinsk are on high alert, and have enacted the "Fortress" plan in order to protect vital infrastructure.

Some astronomers are saying that this small asteroid was a straggler from the annual Quadrantid meteor shower - talk about a big fireball! (Sorry I neglected to provide a heads-up about this shower, as it's usually one of the best, but work has buried me pretty much since before the semester started.)

This huge meteor or small asteroid has no relation to Asteroid 2012 DA14 (despite the title of the YouTube video, above), set to blast past Earth so close that it could hit some of our satellites. Follow the link above to Sky & Telescope Magazine's website to learn how to watch this asteroid skim past us tonight. It is as big as a building - 150 feet wide - so big that if it hit our atmosphere, it would release 2.4 megatons of energy, comparable to the 1908 Tunguska event, which released an estimated 3 to 20 megatons of energy. So Asteroid 2012 DA14 is not a world-killer, but today's far-smaller event in Russia gives us a taste of what it might be like to be in the vicinity of such a thing.

EDIT: Here's the NASA TV story about the asteroid fly-by:


Space-based defenses, anyone?

Yikes,
Chris

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
desperance
Feb. 15th, 2013 05:58 pm (UTC)
This huge meteor or small asteroid has no relation to Asteroid 2012 DA14

And yet the headline on the video you link to? Says "Asteroid 2012 DA14 Hit Russia". Sigh...
mckitterick
Feb. 16th, 2013 12:57 am (UTC)
I know... *sigh*
tully01
Feb. 15th, 2013 06:47 pm (UTC)
Wow. You can tell from the split contrail that the major brightness boost was the meteor breaking into at least two pieces, exposing fresh surface as it bburned through. Between the flare and the sonic boom and any impact shockwave that HAD to be a hair-raiser of a surprise.

Given that DA14 is passing Earth in the daytime (for us) in about 45 minutes from now and over the other side of the globe, we're not going to be seeing it from the Plains. :( But I'm sure there's going to be some good footage.
mckitterick
Feb. 16th, 2013 12:58 am (UTC)
Exactly! Can you imagine that? When the sunny side of things suddenly was cast into shadow from that meteor? WHOAH.

Oh, I can't wait to see the asteroid pass-by video! It'll be better than any of us could make, anyhow.
silverfae
Feb. 15th, 2013 06:55 pm (UTC)
Here's an interesting article as well, if you, like me, have wondered, "Why do all these Russians have dash cams?"
silverfae
Feb. 15th, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
Also.. here's a great one with the sonic boom:

tully01
Feb. 15th, 2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
I was thinking that too. Why all the dash cams?

silverfae
Feb. 15th, 2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
From the article, I'm beginning to wonder if we won't see this more and more in America, as well.
With our litigious society, we might all end up wearing headcams!
mckitterick
Feb. 16th, 2013 12:59 am (UTC)
I was wondering the same thing - huh! Not a huge surprise, eh?
silverfae
Feb. 16th, 2013 05:37 am (UTC)
It makes me wonder if we might go the same way eventually.
But really, I have seen so many beautiful things just hanging out in our hot tub at night, like the huge fireball last night before last.

Edited at 2013-02-16 05:40 am (UTC)
mckitterick
Feb. 16th, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC)
I often think about how wonderful it must be to live somewhere without significant light pollution. That's something I loved about northeast Montana: One streetlight in all of the town where I lived for a year. Pity the locals were such horrid people.
silverfae
Feb. 17th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
Oh man, the first time I saw the sky in the middle of nowhere Nevada, I was truly amazed, I'd never seen anything like it in my life.
garyomaha
Feb. 16th, 2013 02:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, that was the first question that popped into my mind. I just figured it's another social media phenomenon that I'm late getting into. ;)
tully01
Feb. 15th, 2013 07:11 pm (UTC)
Livestream from NAS/JPL

http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2
mckitterick
Feb. 16th, 2013 12:59 am (UTC)
Just got home from work... watching now....
hdsqrl
Feb. 15th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
Whoa. Crazy!!!
mckitterick
Feb. 16th, 2013 01:00 am (UTC)
Isn't it, though? Big Astro News!
carmy_w
Feb. 15th, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
I just saw a tumblr entry that said: Meteors are nature's way of asking "How's that space program coming?"

Also, if you twitter, or tumblr, there was a tumblr post about a FANTASTIC twitter stream starting with William Shatner asking a question of an astronaut (Chris Hadfield) on the International Space Station, then going through about six more Star Trek characters. I could not miss reblogging it!
mckitterick
Feb. 16th, 2013 01:03 am (UTC)
Meteors are nature's way of asking "How's that space program coming?"

EXACTLY.

COOL! Must look up that Hadfield stuff. I follow his Tumblr blog - it's full of gorgeous images.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )