People in Russia were taken by surprise this morning when a large ball of fire streaked across the sky around 9:20 am (local time). Many startled onlookers weren’t sure what they were witnessing and feared that a war was breaking out.
The sonic blast emitted from the 10 ton meteor was said to have injured almost 1000 people and to have left a trail of shattered windows below its path. Fortunately, most people’s injuries weren’t life threatening; many affected by the incident suffered only minor cuts and bruises from shards of flying glass.
The meteor shot into the atmosphere at a staggering speed of 33,000 mph and burst into smaller pieces at about 18-32 miles above the Ural Mountains. A substantial band of smoke tailed behind, and reports from witnesses describe the explosion as being blindingly bright.
A 20 foot wide hole was discovered on a frozen lake’s surface near the town of Chebarkul, where the Russian army believes the meteorite landed. (Fun fact: once a meteor has hit the ground, it is called a meteorite.)
Coincidentally, an asteroid will also be passing by us today, but it won’t come anywhere near Earth. Scientists say that the asteroid and meteor are completely unrelated and that they originated from opposite directions.
The meteor that flashed through Russia’s sky today was a rare occurrence. Typically, they burn up in the atmosphere, never reaching our planet’s surface. Many of us fondly refer to meteors as shooting stars.
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