ANCHORAGE - Call it a trick of Mother Nature or, possibly, a cosmic coincidence. For almost a year scientists have been preparing for a large asteroid to pass uncomfortably close to Earth. What they didn’t expect was a meteorite that made an appearance over Russia hours before.
The meteorite also took Russians by surprise. Many were headed to work when what looked like a huge ball of smoke went streaking across the sky, causing a sonic boom. The event was caught on countless video cameras and cell phones.
But what seemed like a scene from a Hollywood movie was definitely real. The explosion sent debris to earth and the shock waves broke windows and damaged structures. More than a thousand people were injured, mostly from flying glass.
Some of the injured were children who had just arrived at school. But the government said less than 50 people had been hospitalized and there were few reports of serious injuries.
UAA astronomy instructor Michelle Wooten said most meteors burn up when they hit the earth’s atmosphere, and the size and location of this one was rare, as well as the fact that it struck in a populated area. Other scientists have called the meteorite hit a one-in-100-year event, and stress there was no connection to the asteroid that passed safely by earth hours later.