More than 1000 injured as meteor debris strikes Russia (VIDEOS)
UPDATE: A New York Times report says at least 1000 were injured by meteor debris - many from glass that shattered as a thunderous shockwave hit. The meteor is thought to have have exploded and evaporated 30km to 50km above the Earth's surface, but fragments - meteroids - struck near Chelyabinsk, Siberia. Compounding the disaster, Chelyabinsk is in a region where there are many factories for defense, including nuclear weapons production, the Times reports. But there was no indication of any damage that resulted in any radiation leaks, officials say. Most fragments fell around 80km west of the city, but a massive sonic boom (which can be heard on the videos below) was powerful enough to damage buildings in Chelyabinsk.
Meanwhile, US website Slate has collected a series of dramatic videos of a meteor that burned up over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, Siberia.
"My heart was pounding watching those. I have to admit, at first I was thinking this was an elaborate hoax, but the reports are coming in from everywhere. The videos show it at many different angles," writes Slate's atronomy corrrespondent Phil Plait.
The obvious conclusion to jump to is that the Russian meteor is a fragment of DA14, but Plait says videos appear to show it moving east-to-west, going by the position of the sun, whereas "DA14 is approaching Earth from the south, so any fragment of that rock would also appear to move south-to-north."
On social media, a number of people have remarked it odd that so many Russian cars caught the meteor on dashboard cams. The Guardian says the cams are common because drivers want video evidence on their side when accidents happen on wild Russian roads.
The extremely loud bang in many of the videos is a sonic boom, Plait says. You can hear it 27 seconds into the video above.
Saturday morning stargazers may catch a glimpse of the 45 metre asteroid called DA14 as it passes over New Zealand on its 'near miss' flight past Earth.
The asteroid, identified last year, will pass within 28,000km of Earth around 8.30am Saturday, NZT. The asteroid will pass closer to the planet than the orbit of some man-made satellites circling the Earth.
NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office has emphatically stated they "can accurately predict the asteroid's path with the observations obtained, and it is therefore known that there is no chance that the asteroid might be on a collision course with Earth."
NASA has posted an animated projection of the flyby and further links here.
Carter Observatory programmes manager John Field told says the asteroid will be visible to New Zealanders from 2am to sunrise on Saturday (16 Feb) through a telescope or a good pair of binoculars (his comments inspired a priceless Dom Post graphic of how the asteroid would look inside the Cake Tin).
"It's pretty rare to see these, but now that we have better telescopes and more people hunting we're getting more reports than ever before," he said.
"Ten years ago, none of our telescopes could even spot them."
Auckland's Stardome astronomer Dr Grant Christie will be tracking the asteroid at Stardome from very early on Saturday morning.
You can follow the trajectory of DA14 in realtime on Saturday morning for yourself at NASA TV .
(Science Media Centre)