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A large meteorite exploded in the sky over the eastern United States

Added Thu, 03/08/2023
Дата публикации
Thu, 03/08/2023

On August 2, at 2 a.m. Eastern Standard time, sonic booms rolled across the eastern United States, shaking buildings hard enough to wake frightened residents. Those who were on the street at that moment looked up and saw a sparkling fireball tearing apart overhead.

Amateur astronomer Bill Stewart from Ceredo, West Virginia, was outside in his rooftop observatory and accidentally recorded what happened:

"The fireball made two audible pops. After one bright flash, it broke into 3 separate fragments. One remained bright as it sank below the horizon. Perhaps he could have fallen to the ground, although I didn't hear the impact."

The American Meteor Society collected more than 65 eyewitness reports from 9 US states. The fireball first appeared over Ohio, swept south, and then disappeared over Georgia. Observers said that "it flashed like lightning," "it shook my house," and "I've never seen anything like it."

NASA found out what it was — a fragment of a comet weighing about 40 kg and with a diameter of about a meter. According to Bill Cook of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, "it entered the Earth's atmosphere about 80 km above the city of Krypton in Kentucky, moving approximately southeast at a speed of 60,000 km/h. The object traveled 104 km through the atmosphere before exploding over Duffield, Virginia."

The destruction of the meteorite produced an energy of about 2 tons in TNT equivalent. At the brightest moment, the fireball was about 5 times brighter than the full moon.

A fragment of which comet? No one knows.

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