It seems this year is to be the year of epic close encounters of the space debris kind. In February we watched in awe as a meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, shattering windows for miles in all directions with its sonic boom. This month, on April 21, the night sky over eight provinces in Argentina was illuminated by the light of a giant fireball as another meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded. The flash of light was only seconds in length, but was bright enough to be seen across the country with residents in Santiago del Estero stating that they could feel the ground rumble beneath their feet in its wake.
An Argentinean meteor expert told Red Orbit that the meteor in question was entering the Earth’s upper atmosphere at approximately 80,000 mph. Jorge Coghlan, director of the Santa Fe Astronomical Observatory in Argentina, added in a radio interview with a local Argentina station that the piece of space dust measured between nine and eighteen inches in diameter and exploded about forty miles over the Earth. Coghlan is urging people to be skeptical, however, of many of the videos posted on YouTube, with the exception of surveillance videos and images captured by the concert attendees directly under the explosion.
In the video below the band Los Tekis was performing in Salta, Argentina at the Zamba Festival when the explosion occurred. Matías Díaz, who filmed the event, stated on the band’s website, “People demanded an encore of the Tekis, then they returned to the stage and was at that moment when the sound was cut and decorated the right side was a large green light falling from the sky. People at first did not know it was, thought someone had thrown a vengala but then began to speak of a meteorite.”
While the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk in February was nearly thirty times larger than the one over Argentina, and exploded only eighteen miles over the surface of Earth, it is still a “close call” and makes one wonder just how many more of these events we can expect in the coming months. The Argentinean meteor is speculated to be part of the annual April Lyrids meteor showers, which occur from April 16-26 each year with the peak being April 22. These meteors are the “dust” shed by the tail of the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and have been observed and documented by astronomers for over 2,500 years.