Thousands view dramatic meteor footage

Published Friday, 15 February 2013
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Thousands of people have been checking out dramatic eye-witness footage of the meteor which injured over 1,000 people in Russia - just ahead of people in Northern Ireland being among those able to see a 'Near Earth Asteroid' make the closest recorded pass of Earth.

The meteor streaked across the blue skies above the Ural Mountains on Friday morning, leaving a clearly visible vapour trail and then an intense, fiery flash.

It caused a series of explosions and many of those injured were cut by broken glass.

"There was panic. People had no idea what was happening," one resident of Chelybinsk, about 900 miles east of Moscow, said.

"Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were okay. We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound."

Confusion as to what had happened continued amid conflicting reports regarding whether it had been a meteor shower or a single meteor.

But the Russian Academy of Sciences has since estimated that the single meteor initially weighed about 10 tons and had entered the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000mph.

It's thought to have shattered about 18-32 miles above ground.

The European Space Agency, in a post on its Twitter account, said its experts had determined there was no connection with the asteroid 2012 DA14.

If the asteroid 2012 DA14 struck Earth (it won't), it would release the energy equivalent of 2.4m tons of TNT and wipe out everything for 750 square miles around the impact site.

Terry Mosley, IAA

Terry Mosley, from the Irish Astronomical Association, says that people in Northern Ireland should be able to see the asteroid - which is about 165ft in diameter - when it passes just 17,000 miles above the surface of the Earth on Friday evening.

"There is no risk of a collision, but if an object of this size did hit the Earth, the damage would be very significant. 17,000 miles seems like a significant distance, but it's just over twice the diameter of the Earth. It will be travelling at 7.8km/sec, or over 17,000mph," he said.

"NASA estimates that an object of this size only passes this close to Earth about every 40 years on average. And one of this size will hit us about every 1200 years, on average."

The asteroid will be closest to Earth at about 6pm and should be visible in binoculars.

"This will be the brightest ever asteroid to be observed approaching so close to our planet," Terry Mosley added.

"It is predicted to be 30 times brighter and more than 150 times more massive than the next largest known object to approach as close or closer to our planet in recent years."

According to the European Space Agency, experts have already been looking into worst-case scenarios - just in case a meteorite should ever be heading for a big city - with scientists from across Europe, the US and Russia discussing how to spot potential threats and how to avert them.

"It's a global challenge and we need to find a solution together. But one thing's for sure ..." spokesman Bernhard Von Weyhe said.

"... the Bruce Willis Armageddon method won't work."

© UTV News
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1 Comments
Banbridge in Banbridge Co Down wrote (579 days ago):
My son and I were in the car last night at around 7pm when the sky lit up, the sky lit up blue can anyone tell me did they notice the sky last night, it was freaky!!! We drove over to my in laws house and tols them what we both seen they told us the electric flicked off and on ar the same time... Can anyone shed light on this???
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