November 19th, 2009

meteor

Astro-Porn of the Day: HUGE fireball during last night's Leonids

Holy sky-on-fire, Batman! Here's a little video taken by the University of Utah's observatory on Frisco Peak, presumably an automated camera. Watch how this fireball changes night into day:



Apparently, it was visible all over the western USA, with people reporting sightings across Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. I'm so envious! Skies in Kansas were cloudy last night... but it's clear today. Although this happened during the Leonids, this fireball was not a Leonid meteor. Scientists suspect a small asteroid that exploded when it hit Earth's atmosphere, releasing the equivalent of a kiloton of TNT. That's some serious interplanetary warfare, folks. Imagine if it had exploded a little lower in the atmosphere, especially over a city?

We are tiny creatures who dwell on the surface of a small planet that's hurtling through the cosmos along with billions of other objects. Once in a while, we collide. Often we get to watch a pretty meteor shower, sometimes we have the thrill of a fireball, and once in a while - frequently in terms of the life of the Earth - we experience ecosystem-destroying asteroid impacts. This one sits right between those last two.

Here's the aftermath, still visible in the morning sky:

Click the image to see the story.

EDIT: Lots more videos on this Utah news site.

Astro-porn indeed!

Chris