Reports of a meteor explosion over Tuscon, Arizona yesterday evening are part of a disturbing new trend. This year has seen a dramatic increase in the number of reported sightings of fireballs, the term used by scientists for extremely bright meteors or shooting stars.
The year began with the dramatic explosion of a meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia. This explosion was so large that it shattered windows in buildings and homes sending numerous people to the hospital with cuts and abrasions. Reports issued after researchers carefully studied this meteor led scientists to conclude that the threat from such meteors has been severely underestimated. They found that such explosions are far more common and happen more often than previously believed.
Yet these results simply reinforce what astronomers Victor Clube and Bill Napier reported back in the mid-80s in their books The Cosmic Serpent and Cosmic Winter. Looking back through ancient astronomical records and climate records they found a cycle of major meteor bombardments that repeated every 5,000 years. The last such bombardment occurred 5,000 years ago around 3100 BC which led these researchers to conclude that an increased risk of meteor bombardment would begin after the year 2000.
Coincidentally, 3100 BC is also the beginning of many ancient calendars including the Mayan calendar. According to researcher Dr. Mike Baille who studies tree rings to find evidence of climate shifts over the past 5,000 years, the Mayan calendar seems to coincide closely with such climate events he found in tree rings. He argued that these climate events were caused by meteor bombardments. He concluded that the Maya engineered their calendar to coincide with and track these events.
The book Mayan Calendar Prophecies, published last year before the recent uptick in meteor events, concurred and argued that, despite media hype to the contrary, the Maya made no specific prediction about the end date of their calendar, December 21, 2012. Instead, this date held importance only because it marked the end of the current 5,000 year cycle and the beginning of a new cycle. Based on extensive research of their ancient records and inscriptions, the book concluded that this new cycle would include an increased risk from meteor bombardments after December 21, 2012. The Chelyabinsk explosion occurring less than two months after this date confirmed the book's conclusions. This book also noted that the Maya predicted the most dangerous period would be between the years 2032-2052.
The latest meteor explosion over Arizona on Tuesday night created a loud sonic boom. Dash cam footage of the meteor shows an extremely bright blueish light streaking across the sky before exploding in a flash of white light. Scientists believe the meteor was part of the debris stream that causes the Geminid meteor shower this time of year. Unlike most meteor showers that are caused by debris from comets, the Geminid shower is caused by debris from a space rock called 3200 Phaethon. The amount of debris in this meteor stream outweighs other meteor-shower-causing streams by a factor of 5 to 500.
The Geminid meteor shower continues for the rest of this week if you would like the chance to witness one of nature's most beautiful, though potentially dangerous, events.