Meteorite Hits Russia, Larger Asteroid Misses Earth

By: Melissa Warren Email
By: Melissa Warren Email

The meteorite that exploded over the skies of Russia's Ural Mountains this morning was one of the largest in recorded history.

Those who witnessed it probably had wishing on a shooting star as the last thing on their mind, but one WKU professor says that's exactly what it was.

"Every shooting star is a little asteroidal fragment, and they come from things the size of Pluto almost to basically grains of sand," said WKU Astronomy Assistant Professor Tom Bohuski.

Bohuski says they are usually very small and go unnoticed. Today's meteorite was about 16 yds. in diameter and weighed 7,000 tons. Even this meteorite came as a surprise.

"Even if it's ten tons, in terms of diameter it's still fairly small in the sense that you can't see it... it's too faint to be seen until it's on top of us," said Bohuski.

A larger piece that did cause more concern, was what's known as asteroid 2012 DA 14 which just slid by Earth today leading some to wonder if there was any relation.

"There's no connection, expect that it's another piece of asteroidal junk floating around in the inner solar system," said Bohuski.

Many are calling it a "cosmic coincidence," but a lucky one at that. While the shockwave caused by the meteorite's explosion injured thousands with shattered glass and debris, 2012 DA 14 would have been far more devastating.

NASA says the fireball created by the meteorite's explosion was brighter than the sun, and the largest reported in more than a century.

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