Very bright fireball streaks across the night sky over central Russia


A brilliant fireball streaked across the night sky in central Russia at around 15:40 UTC (22:40 LT) on May 18, 2020. The spectacular event was seen in the southern part of the Krasnoyarsk region, as well as in the republics of Khakassia and Tyva.

Eyewitnesses said the fireball fell from the sky towards the ground at a fast speed.

"I saw a ball of fire in the sky, it was flying quickly, leaving a beautiful tail in the sky, shimmering in different colors. It flew for a short time, for only three or four seconds," one observer noted.

Some people reported hearing a loud bang, but local emergency official Eduard Bille stated that the meteor did not make a sound. "It literally lasted several seconds; a bright ball crossed the sky and disappeared somewhere near the ground. It was all quiet: no bangs, no blasts, nothing."

The American Meteor Society (AMS) received one report, from a viewer in Krasnoyarsk.

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"This is a very rare phenomenon when we can eyewitness such a large celestial body entering Earth’s atmosphere," said astronomer Sergey Karpov, doctor of physical and mathematical sciences and the leading researcher at the Krasnoyarsk Insitute of Physics.

"This is not dangerous to us, because such bodies disintegrate and burn in the atmosphere. It is larger celestial bodies that can reach the ground, which is very rare," he added.

Karpov believes that the size of the object was about 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter. "This object is not large enough to cause destruction comparable to that of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, which was about 10 meters (33 feet) in diameter. It entered the atmosphere and burned down, I don’t think that some parts of it fell to the ground."

The astronomer also warned, "Celestial bodies from 1 m (3 feet) in diameter can be dangerous. Yet, it is not the actual fall that can cause a lot of destruction, but the blast wave which is created as the space body passes through the atmosphere at supersonic speed. Such a blast wave possesses tremendous destructive force at a long distance."

Featured image credit: Погода от шефа

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