Asteroid scares continue after a meteorite caused severe damage in Russia Friday morning (Photo : Reuters)
The asteroid scare isn't over. Although the 150 foot wide asteroid known as 2012 DA14 has officially passed by earth, the memory of Friday's meteor that shattered windows with its sonic boom in Russia and left over 500 injured is still fresh on people's minds. To make matters even more frightening, more fireball sightings have been reported by residents in California and on Cuban state television.
Friday evening, the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland received multiple reports describing what appeared to be a westward flying fireball tearing across the night sky.
Jonathan Braidman, an instructor at the center, said the object was most likely a small piece of a larger asteroid that "somehow" got taken in by earth's gravitational pull. "This is a very common occurrence," Braidman said. "What is uncommon is that it's so close to where people are living."
Cuban state TV also reported that it too had seen the meteorite earlier in the week. A local newscast interviewed Cuban residents describing an impressive explosion, according to The Guardian.
"On Tuesday we left home to fish around five in the afternoon, and around [eight o'clock] we saw a light in the heavens and then a big ball of fire, bigger than the sun," one man said in the newscast. It's unknown if the streaking lights have any connection to those seen in California on Friday.
The increase in meteor reports most likely comes as a result of 2012 DA14, the football field-sized asteroid that passed by earth Friday afternoon, which coincided with meteorite that caused such a clamor in Russia. Fireballs occur every single night, however "the media attention on the Russian thing got people's attention, so they're more likely to notice things in the sky," said Mike Hankey, operations manager of the American Meteor Society.
NASA noted that the path of the meteorite appeared to be different than that of the asteroid, making the two objects "completely unrelated." The meteor seemed to be traveling from north to south, while the asteroid passed from south to north, according to Fox News.
Most of the solar system's asteroids are situated in a belt between Mars and Jupiter, and remain stable there for billions of years. Occasionally, one escapes and can come within earth's vicinity. NASA scientists estimate that an object similar in size to 2012 DA14 passes by our planet every 40 years, but that the chances of a strike are very unlikely.
Although the thought of a meteor the size of a football field ripping through our atmosphere at 17,400 mph is terrifying, we shouldn't be afraid every time we see a shooting star.