Locals react to Russian meteor strike

A meteor that hit a Russian city Friday has sparked conversation among astronomy experts in Southwest Ohio.

Bob Connell, president of the Miami Valley Astronomical Society, said it’s nearly impossible to predict a meteor of that size hitting Earth. Experts are predicting the meteor weighed an estimated 10 tons as it sped over Russia’s Ural Mountains Friday. An estimated 1,000 people are injured, according to multiple media reports.

He said as more analysis comes out, experts will be able to determine how big it actually was when it entered Earth’s atmosphere, and if anything actually made it to the ground. He said often, the meteor will disintegrate in the air.

With several hundred reporting injuries in Russia and thousands of buildings damaged, experts said damage is usually caused by the shock wave, rather than any impact with the ground.

The meteor fell at Mach 30, or 30 times the speed of sound, before exploding, said Jason Diebel, assistant professor, Wright State University Physics Department

The meteor released several kilotons of energy above the region, according to the Associated Press. The shock wave blew in an estimated 100,000 square meters (more than 1 million square feet) of glass, according to city officials, who said 3,000 buildings in the city were damaged. At one zinc factory, part of the roof collapsed.

According to The International Society for Meteoritics and Planetary Science, two meteors have been recorded in the area. One was in Dayton on Dover Street between Pierce Street and Harper Avenue in 1892, while another was reported in Enon in 1883 on Southern Vista Drive.

There’s essentially no way to predict when an object of this size will hit earth, he said.

“They are very dim objects. We do have the ability to look into space and see radar … But to accurately predict days, months and years in advance, something this small, there’s really no way,” Connell said.

Meteorologist Rich Wirdzek said the science used to track asteroids is very limited compared to what can be done on Earth with predicting weather.

“The meteor itself was extremely small compared to the asteroid that will miss earth today,” Wirdzek said. “These types of meteors are too small to be picked up by the telescopes used to look well into space, so it comes down to limitation in what we can see.”

The asteroid 2012 DA14, which measures about 45 to 50 feet in diameter, is scheduled to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid in record history today, about 17,150 miles from Earth.

The asteroid 2012 DA14 and the meteor over Russia aren’t likely to be connected, experts said.

“Initially looking at this, there is no relationship between the two,” Connell said. “More than likely, it’s a coincidence.”

“It’s one of those rare events we get to see in our lifetime,” Connell said.

Kyle Nagel contributed to this report.

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