The skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia light up after a meteorite breaks up in the atmosphere.
Could it be the Mayans were a couple of months off?
It might seem like something out of the movie Armageddon, but within a day of each other two frightening and spectacular astronomical events occurred that show just how close we could get to a real doomsday scenario.
The first happened in the skies over Russia, when on Thursday a meteor streaked through the skies over Russia, exploding with a shockwave that shattered glass windows for miles around, injuring up to 1000 people.
The second event occurred yesterday when an asteroid labeled 2012 DA-14 flew by Earth at a record-breaking distance of just 17,200 miles — the closest ever recorded for an asteroid of its size.
While that may still seem like quite a distance, to put it in perspective, the asteroid came closer to our planet than some communications satellites we have in orbit. In the grand scheme of our universe, that’s just a hair’s breadth away.
Had the 50 meter rock actually hit the Earth, it would have enough destructive force to level a city the size of New York, not to mention the environmental catastrophe it would cause. It is believed by scientists that a large asteroid that hit the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Watch this video, which shows Nasa’s coverage of the asteroid’s near-miss fly-by.
The interesting thing is neither of these events are related to each other. Apparently it’s just a cosmic coincidence.
“Information is still being collected about the Russian meteorite and analysis is preliminary at this point,” NASA said in a statement. “In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14′s trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north.”