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Entries in Meteor Shower (2)

Friday
Feb152013

Meteor Falls in Russia, More than 1,000 Injured

Hemera/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- More than 1,000 people were injured Friday when the largest meteor to strike the Earth in two generations disintegrated above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk located about 1,000 miles east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains.

Dashboard cameras captured a blinding flash of light streaking across the sky.  Moments later, the fragments smashed into the ground.  The impact, and the sonic boom of the meteor entering the atmosphere, shattered windows around the city and knocked over a wall at a zinc factory.

Witnesses say they thought a war had broken out.

"I saw a body moving in the skies, in a moment there came a flash -- we first thought it was fireworks but a moment later we saw a trace as if from the rocket followed by an explosion in couple of minutes.  The window broke ... tea, bread, water -- everything fell on the floor," one restaurant waiter in Chelyabinsk said.

One scientist told Russian television the meteor was a big one, weighing perhaps tens of tons, but stressed that it was not related to the asteroid that is expected to buzz close to Earth later on Friday.

Regional officials say that one large fragment fell in a lake, but debris has been reported in three parts of Russia and in Kazakhstan.

Schools in the region closed for the day after most of the windows were blown out, citing freezing temperatures which were below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

The incident knocked out cellphone networks, but electricity and water supplies were not affected.  Rosatom said all of its nuclear power facilities were functioning normally.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug122011

The Sky is Falling! Perseid Meteor Shower Coming

Chad Baker/Photodisc/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- Go outside before dawn, and if the Perseid meteor shower of 2011 is good to you, you will be able to see the sky falling.

Every year at this time, the Earth passes through the orbit of a comet called Swift-Tuttle, and the result is a meteor shower -- shooting stars, up to 50 or 60 per hour -- streaking across the night sky as debris from the comet enters the Earth's atmosphere and burns up.

Even though the comet is far away now, in an elliptical orbit that brings it close to the sun just once every 133 years, rock and ice from it have spread out in a ring all along its path.  The comet itself will probably be pretty good to see if you can hang on until July 2126, but in the meantime, like clockwork, it gives us an annual meteor shower in mid-August.

This is not the best year to see the Perseid.  A full moon will brighten the sky on Friday night and Saturday morning, just as the shower peaks.

"The best time to look is during the hours before dawn especially on Saturday morning, August 13th," writes Tony Phillips, an astronomer who manages the Science News page at NASA's website.  "The full Moon will be relatively low, and the meteor rate should be peaking at that time."

There's an added bonus if you're willing to give up some sleep.  The International Space Station -- visible as a bright star moving steadily across the sky -- will pass over North America several times each morning this week, and can be seen at different times in almost every part of the U.S.  For specific times and directions where you live, take a look at NASA's Human Spaceflight site, which now includes a "SkyWatch 2.0" applet.

Be alert; most meteors streak by in a second or less, sometimes in clusters.  Most of the shooting stars are created by small cometary fragments, some as small as grains of sand, completely vaporized as they plunge into our protective blanket of air.

The best way to see them is to find a dark place with no street lights and as few trees as possible, and look up.  The streaks could appear anywhere in the sky, though they'll all appear to come from the constellation Perseus, in the northeastern sky, after midnight.

You're best off if you park yourself so that the moon, setting in the west, is behind you, and you let your eyes get used to the darkness.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio