It still didn’t get very bright; it was invisible to the naked eye. But with digital cameras and dark skies, snapping pictures of it was a matter of knowing where to aim, something photographer Colin Legg knows very well. From Perth, Australia, he captured this lovely time-lapse video of the asteroid moving past Earth right at the time of closest approach, 19:24 UTC. And he captured more than just DA14; there are some other surprises in the video, too. Make sure to set it to full-screen.
You can see DA14 sliding through the video from top to bottom on the left side of the frame. But right after the video starts, a meteor plummets through the field of view, leaving behind what’s called a persistent train—a trail of vaporized rock that can glow for several minutes.
…a very big meteor burned up over Chelyabinsk, a city in Russia just east of the Ural mountains, and about 1500 kilometers east of Moscow. The fireball was incredibly bright, rivaling the Sun! There was a pretty big sonic boom from the fireball, which set off car alarms and shattered windows.
Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog continues to update with videos and photos as more information is revealed (and corrected). In the incredibly clear video above, you can see the meteor as it was recordedon February 15, 2013by a dashboard camera.
Meteorites are the chunks of meteors that have hurtled through Earth’s atmosphere and landed/crashed on the ground. There are three types of meteorites: stone, iron and stony-iron, and once they’re in science labs to be studied, they need to be handled super-carefully. The Smithsonian’s meteorite lab shows us exactly how carefully!
This is a big issue. We study meteorites to learn things about what has happened and is happening outside our own planetary system. If, in the process of that, we end up covering the samples with the detritus of Earth, then the message gets muddled. If you’re studying a meteorite, you want to be reasonably sure that you’re not accidentally studying dust or bacteria from this planet. Clean rooms like the one in this video make it easier to examine these samples in a way that is less destructive.
One of the kiddo’s favorite songs from They Might Be Giants’ Here Comes Science — after Meet the Elements, of course — here comes What is a Shooting Star? (Hint: A shooting star is not a star, it’s not a star at all. A shooting star’s a meteor that’s heading for a fall…)