The meteor killed the asteroid star Friday (Feb. 15), and there's plenty of video to prove it. While everyone patiently awaited the arrival and flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14, an event heralded for months, a meteor streaked across the Russian skies above the Ural Mountains and stole the asteroid's thunder, so to speak. Images of it's trail, explosion, and subsequent fireball and meteorite production (not to mention the damaging aftermath of passage) were caught by the hundreds in striking photos and in dramatic footage from cell phones and various video cameras.
But one stands out as best.
Many of the videos uploaded to YouTube came from dashcams of commuting Russians, including the one that just might be the most exciting. In this video (which can be seen above), posted by an uploader in Cyrillic (which one could assume means they are Russian) on Feb. 15, the driver is headed down a highway with a few tall buildings looming on the right side of the road and smokestacks limned against the sky on the left. A dome of sunlight glows on the horizon from the rising sun. Suddenly, a bright spot appears to the left in the azure sky. It gets larger and larger as if moving straight towards the driver, then shifts slightly towards the right, leaving a smoky contrail in its wake. And just as it passes over the building on the right, the light (from the detonation of the rupturing meteor) fills the sky.
It is a quick 15 seconds of film, from the appearance of the meteor to its disappearance, and it undoubtedly left the driver of the vehicle concerned, perhaps even frightened. Imagine the quick rush of adrenaline the driver must have felt as the fireball grew as it quickly moved toward the vehicle. The quick surge of trepidation as the thought arose that whatever was speeding their way just might collide with them. At the back of the driver's mind had to be the thought that the near-miss asteroid wasn't going to miss after all. (The meteor appeared on the same day the massive asteroid 2012 DA14 was supposed to pass by the Earth.) Had the asteroid entered the Earth's atmosphere instead? Or was the brilliant and fast-moving fireball something else? A missile? Were they being attacked?
It is difficult to say what went through the driver's mind. But it is easy to believe that the meteor generated a brisk flurry of speculative thought and questions, not to mention a quick rush of emotions.
Astronomers at the European Space Agency would later reassure the public on Twitter that the meteor was not the asteroid nor was it connected to the asteroid that would make its flyby later in the day.
The meteor's explosion sent a shockwave through central Russia, centering over the Chelyabinsk region, and sending fireball fragments over three regions of the vast nation. It shook buildings, blew out windows, caused cell phone disruptions, and set off car alarms. The blast also sent over 1,100 people to the hospital, according to the Washington Post, most from wounds suffered from flying glass. Over 200 of those injured were children.
NASA reported that the meteor was estimated to be only about the size of a bus.