Meteor blazes trail across the morning sky

Meteor blazes trail across the morning sky

A spectacular fireball lit up the sky over Central Russia on 15th Feb 2013

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This week our new astronomy comic has sent our heroes Ravi, Mara and Jakes off on a hunt for asteroids.

By strange coincidence, in real life Earth has had two visitors from space on the same day, 15th February 2013.

Fire in the sky...

This morning a meteorite hurtled across the sky above the city of Chelyabinsk about 950 miles east of Moscow in Russia.  It exploded in spectacular fashion and fell to Earth, damaging some buildings and smashing windows.

News outlets are reporting that several hundred people have been injured, mostly with cuts and scrapes from broken glass. Mobile phones stopped working and car alarms went off all over the city.

People from up to 125 miles away reported seeing the trail in the sky, and videos of the meteor are starting to circulate online.

 

 

A near miss...

The "Russian Meteor" is not the only object in the sky to make the news today.

U.S. space agency NASA has said an asteroid called 2012 DA14, which measures about 46 meters across, will fly past Earth today.  It will come closer than any asteroid since scientists began routinely monitoring them about 15 years ago.

The asteroid is a whopper, weighing in at around 150 tonnes (compared to the estimated 10 tonnes of the Russian meteor this morning).

Don't panic!

Although 2012 DA14 is being talked about as a "near miss" it will whizz past Earth at a distance of about 17,000 miles.  While that may be closer than some TV and communication satellites, it is still a long way away.

Some people have been asking if the meteorite strike in Russia is something to do with 2012 DA14, and whether we chould be worried about the asteroid that will skim past Earth this evening.

However, there is no reason to worry. Prof Paul Roche, Lecturer in astronomy at the University of Glamorgan and Director of the Faulkes Telescope Project told Planet Science: "The Russian Meteor is completely unrelated to 2012 DA14 as it came from totally different direction in the sky".

NASA have also confirmed that there is no risk at all of 2012 DA14 hitting Earth.

Watch 2012 DA14 for yourself

There is a chance that UK astonomy enthusiasts may have the chance to glimpse the 2012 DA14 for themselves, using telescopes or binoculars, at around 9.00PM GMT tonight, 15th Feb 2013.

NASA will also have live coverage of the asteroid from 7.30PM GMT this evening shot by telescopes in Australia and Europe and lasting for several hours.

NASA Asteroid Flyby