Meteor mania

Meteors! A dramatic hit in Russia and now reports of a biggie in Cuba with Cuba’s being unconfirmed.

From the BBC:“A meteor crashing in Russia’s Ural mountains has injured at least 950 people, as the shockwave blew out windows and rocked buildings.

Most of those hurt, in the Chelyabinsk region where the meteor fell, suffered cuts and bruises but at least 46 remain in hospital.

A fireball streaked through the clear morning sky, followed by loud bangs..”.

Here’s a brief news report from Reuters which shows a Zinc factory that was impacted by part of the meteor:

And here’s a tweeted picture of that zinc plant:

Part of the meteor [turned meteorite] impacted into a lake.
Slate blogger Phil Plait has this:
“…So what happened to the meteoroid, the actual solid chunk of matter that did all this? There are now reports that at least one sizeable piece landed in Chebarkul lake a few kilometers west of Chelyabinsk, Russia. The lake was frozen, and a large hole, nearly 10 meters (33 feet) across, was found in its surface.

I always try to be skeptical about such things, but this looks legit…”


The Russian meteor was not the anticipated meteor for today named 2012 DA14, which has already passed over Indonesia today at a height of 17,200 miles above our planet. The meteor 2012 DA14 is an estimated 50 meters (160 feet) in diameter.

Not exactly sure where I earlier read that the Russian meteor was estimated at 2 meters across. Now I am learning from Corey S. Powell at Discover that it is probably much bigger:
“The original mass of the rock that hit over Russia may be much larger than originally estimated. Calculations by astronomer Margaret Campbell-Brown at the University of Western Ontario in London, reported in the journal Nature, put its mass at 7,000 metric tons. At a density of 3 grams per cubic centimeter (typical of a stony meteorite), that means the parent body was about 15 meters (50 feet) wide. Early reports pegged it as being much smaller, probably because the vast majority of the meteor disintegrated in the atmosphere.”

This video captures the nuclear-level blast Russians heard:

Here’s Phil Plait from Slate talking about the Russian meteor in an extended video recorded today during a google hang-out. By the way, Phil has given a TED talk, and he’s scheduled to come to Madison, WI in March [looking for that info right now].:

I found Phil’s book “Death from the Skies” on amazon. If you click on the cover of the book there you can start reading the 1st chapter.
See the CoverItLive feed of tweets on the meteor stuff at bottom of this post for on the fly updates.

On the words Meteoroid, meteor,meteorite
“A meteoroid is a sand- to boulder-sized particle of debris in the Solar System. The visible streak of light from a meteoroid, heated as it enters a planet’s atmosphere, and the glowing particles that it sheds in its wake is called a meteor, or colloquially a “shooting star” or “falling star”. Many meteors appearing seconds or minutes apart, and appearing to originate from the same fixed point in the sky, are called a meteor shower. The root word meteor comes from the Greek meteōros, meaning “suspended in the air”. If a meteoroid reaches the ground and survives impact, then it is called a meteorite.” – source: wikipedia


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