MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - On Friday, February 15, an asteroid and meteor double-teamed our planet. One passed quietly by, but the historical connection between meteors and Russia repeated itself.
“It looked like a nuclear explosion,” described one eyewitness of the meteor explosion in the skies above an industrial area of Russia about 1,000 miles east of Moscow.
Some thought they were under attack; most had no idea what was happening.
“You can see the meteor coming in,” said David Maness, the Planetarium Director at the Pink Palace Museum, as he watched the event unfold, “it hits the thicker and thicker parts of the atmosphere.”
“The meteor was captured on car dashboard cameras and phone,” said a Russian narrator, “a blinding flash of light streaking across the sky, and then—BOOM!”
When the 8,000 ton meteor exploded ten miles above Russia, office windows were blown out; warehouse ceilings collapsed and giant garage doors were blown off their hinges.
Warnings to remain calm went unheeded. A similar meteor explosion happened in 1908 in the Tunguska region of Russia.
“The air blast from that explosion blew down about 800 square miles of trees,” Maness said. “The earth actually picks up maybe a half-ton of material from space everyday.”
Most of it burns up in the atmosphere, but if a meteor were to explode in a heavily populated area like Memphis, it would be disastrous.
“If this object turned out to be about the same size as Tunguska,” Maness told abc24.com, “we’d be seeing destruction probably halfway across Tennessee and into Arkansas as well.”
But that may be a long time coming.
“It’s been 100 years since we saw one like Tunguska,” said Maness, “then we saw one again today. It could be another 100 years or more before we see another one.”
The Russian meteor event was not connected to the asteroid that passed safely by the earth later the same day. It was simply a coincidence.
As to why it happened in Russia again, Maness had a simple answer: “It’s big.”