Just over a week after a marge meteor exploded over Russia, scientists have, using largely video footage of the event, have managed to reconstruct the orbit of a meteor that caught Earth completely off guard, appearing and exploding with no previous warning.
The paper, coming out of the University of Antioquia in Columbia, has presented a preliminary reconstruction of the Russian fireball's orbit, with the authors noting that, as more evidence becomes available, the findings ill be further refined. As for preliminary results, the asteroid appears to be a member of what is known as the Apollo class, a group of asteroids that move in a highly elliptical orbit and cross the Earth's orbit in their circuit around the Sun. For the complete story of how these findings were made, follow the link at the bottom of the article.
As for the big event itself, the explosion took place in the Urals region in central Russia, with the nearest major city being that of Chelyabinsk. As captured on camera, the meteor itself appears as bright as the Sun on its descent, with other images documenting extensive smoke trails in the sky immediately following the event.
As for what took place on the ground, one word describes the sight: chaos.
Over 1,000 people were injured as a result of this event, mainly from shattered glass caused by the concussion created by the explosion. Some people were even hospitalized for concussions caused by the shock wave. Just how powerful was the blast? A magnitude 6 Earthquake was recorded over the area as a result of the explosion. So far, 20,000 emergency workers have been sent to the region to assess damage estimates and monitor radioactivity levels.
As for estimates about the meteor's exact properties, they are as follows. Right now, the consensus is that the meteor was about 50 feet across (only a third of a city destroyer's size), weighed about 7,000, and released the energy of about 300 kilotons of TNT when it exploded about 7-15 miles in the air while traveling at a speed of about 40,000 mph.
Needless to say, such a huge meteor explosion provides plenty of food for thought, namely realization of the fact that the universe is a very dangerous place.
Want to do some sky and potentially meteor (don't get your 'hopes' up for anything like in Russia, though) watching in the Cleveland area? As the last part of the puzzle, be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecast and, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock if you plan to head out and look at the stars this coming week. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you.
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Bodzash Photography & Astronomy