Have you seen the incredible images of last night’s meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia? It’s a stunning, absolutely breathtaking sight. Washington Post reports over 900 injured by shattered glass caused by the shock wave. Phil Plait, the natural resource for death from the skies, has collected videos and images from around the world to his site, Bad Astronomy.
For a taste, here’s a video shot from inside a car, which shows the meteor enter the atmosphere and streak, bright as the sun, across the sky:
It’s a beautiful, and honestly, terrifying scene.
Another fascinating element of such an event taking place now is the flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 which is taking place today and approaching a hair’s breadth distance of 17,000 miles. That’s quite a close encounter (for reference, the moon averages about 239,000 miles from Earth). The passing of DA14 has been a highly anticipated event for sky-watchers for some time, and the Russian meteorite crashing the party only only hours prior appears to be unrelated and only coincidence. Absolutely incredible timing.
Here’s NASA’s GIF of DA14, still 465,000 miles away from Earth.
It’s said that about 1:25 central will be the best time to view the flyby. I would tune in. DA14 is 45-meters in diameter, traveling 17,000 miles per hour, only 17,000 miles over Earth. It is not something you’ll see everyday; actually, you’ve never seen anything like it. As NASA says, “The flyby of 2012 DA14 is the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large.”
*Note. This post has been edited to correct the moving speed of DA14. I had written 17,000 miles per second, which is course, not correct. In changing the # from m/s to m/h I forgot to change the text.*