Footage of what appears to be a meteor streaking across the night sky above northern Russia has surfaced on the Web over the weekend. Drivers with dashcams recorded the alleged fireball exploding over the town of Murmansk Saturday morning at approximately 2:10 a.m. local time, Russia Today reports.
Two separate videos posted to YouTube show a bright blue light illuminating the pitch-black night. The light is assumed to have been a meteor bursting apart in the atmosphere above. No sounds of explosions were heard, according to reports.
The fireball was spotted just days before the annual Lyrid meteor shower is expected to peak on April 21 and 22.
Saturday’s possible meteorite sighting brings to mind the major event that occurred in February 2013 in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia. At that time, a space rock 20 meters in diameter exploded over the town after it tore through the atmosphere at a speed of 12 miles per second. When it exploded, the meteor released a huge amount of energy equivalent to 500 kilotons of TNT, the Guardian reported. The force of the explosion was so strong it knocked people off their feet and shattered windows in thousands of apartment buildings.
The radiation produced by the fireball, which glowed 30 times brighter than the sun, left several people with skin and retinal burns. The Chelyabinsk meteor was the largest meteorite explosion in the world since 1908.
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Officials have yet to confirm whether the streaking light above Murmansk was indeed a meteorite. No impact has yet been reported. IO9 even suggested that the videos could fakes.
It’s also possible that the flash of light was a piece of space debris re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
According to a 2008 report by the Associated Press, between 50 and 200 large pieces of manmade space debris fall to Earth every year. Space junk, including dead satellites, often survives re-entry, and objects as heavy as two tons are estimated to fall to Earth every three weeks or so.
What keeps people from being whacked by space debris? We're fortunate that 70 percent of our planet is water, and humans take up hardly any space. According to research from Columbia University, more than 99.9 percent of the land on Earth is not occupied by a person at a given time.
Here’s video of Saturday’s alleged Russian meteor posted to YouTube by Russia Today: