I have been hearing a lot about meteors and asteroids lately. Even though I follow the news regularly, space type news normally does not catch my attention, until now. I am not exactly sure what I was doing last Friday, February 15, 2013 to completely miss this news story. However, according to NBC News, a meteor flew through the skies over Russia at approximately 40,000 mph then exploded in the Chelyabinsk region. The population of Chelyabinsk is roughly 1.1 million. Although the meteor did not make impact with anything, it did however make a sonic boom explosion, causing building to shake and windows to blow out. At least 1000 people were injured due to debris, which was believed to be primarily from shattered glass. Many Russians claim they were in fear that the world was coming to an end. I am sure it had to be frightening to say the least! What would you think if you had witnessed this event?
In and of itself, I do not think I would have paid much attention to this particular news story, however the very same day an asteroid flew by the Earth missing it by only 17200 miles. According to NASA the two incidences were not related and just a coincidence. Since I was unsure about the differences in asteroids, meteors and meteorites, I thought I would look up the information for those of us who are not familiar with it.
Asteroid: A relatively small inactive body, made of rock, carbon or metal, which orbits the Sun.
Comet: A relatively small and sometimes active object, composed of dirt and ices. Comets are characterized by dust and gas tails when in proximity o the Sun. When far from the Sun, it is difficult to tell the difference between an asteroid and a comet.
Meteoroid: Small particle from an asteroid or comet orbiting the sun.
Meteor: Is a meteoroid that is observed as it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere. – A shooting star.
Meteorite: Is a meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and impacts the Earth’s surface.
Definition Reference: http://www.nearearthobjects.co.uk/
All I know is that we used to make a wish when we would see a ‘shooting star’…but when we see a fireball like that, we had better say a prayer!