A massive and presumably pretty toasty fireball lit up the night sky in Perth yesterday – a sighting of what some reckon was an actual meteor entering the earth’s atmosphere, so the ABC reports.
I’m gonna take this the heck back real quick in case you also dropped out of Physics in high school: a meteor is a broken-off chunk of an asteroid or comet that’s orbiting the sun, and it burns up as it enters the earth’s atmosphere – which is what makes it look like a shooting star, or in this instance a huge arse fireball in the sky.
At about 7.40pm last night calls started flooding into the Department of Fire and Emergency Services about the fireball, some fearing that it might in fact be a UFO (*The X-Files theme plays*), or that the flaming ball in the sky could start an actual fire.
And others started sending their footage through to Perth Observatory, who kindly compiled all the vids below if you wanna take a peek yourself:
Now the question is whether or not the meteor has actually hit the earth; people living in towns 100 kms or so east of Perth, like Caljie and York, reported hearing a loud af sound, almost like an explosion or a plane crashing.
Robyn Garratt from York told ABC Radio Perth:
We heard the boom, we saw the light, we just thought it was lightning to start with, but the boom that came after it was definitely not thunder.
It shook the whole house, the windows, the dog went psycho.
In York, people felt a lot more than that. They all went running outside thinking the sky was falling, basically.
Scientists from Curtin University are on the case; in particular Professor Phil Bland, the director of the Desert Fireball Network – which is a cool as shit job title – who reckons there’s a fair chance the meteor has landed.
That’d be pretty great news for Bland: his Network is all about watching meteors in the sky and then recovering and studying ones that make it to earth, which is only about 2 to 3% of them – they usually move so fast in the sky they burn all the way down to nothing. The ones that do crash to the earth have gotta be large and in charge, moving slowly at a rate of less than 4km/s.
'Meteor' lights up sky over Perth and WA's south-west, causing sonic booms that rattled houses – +GENERAL PHYSICS LABORATORY (GPL)https://t.co/POSXnA7suB— General Physics Lab (@genphys) August 29, 2018
‘Meteor' lights up sky over Perth and WA's south-west, causing sonic booms that rattled . … pic.twitter.com/gCwp1pvlwN
It was unusually bright so it must have been a big object, so that is really exciting.
The other thing is that people reported sonic booms, and you only get that if it goes through the atmosphere low down in the atmosphere, which is a very good sign.
It also looks like we’ve seen it on multiple cameras which means that we’ll be able to triangulate exactly how it came in through the atmosphere, what its position was, what its speed was, what its size was [and] work out where it came from in the solar system, and if any of it landed.
*rubs hands together* I think we might have ourselves another meteor, baby! To help us learn more about how the solar system formed and evolved!
Our buddy Bland again, he’s real keen, and honestly we’re mighty chuffed for him:
When we find one it’s an incredible experience and just putting your hands on that is a fantastic moment.
It’s very emotional as well as scientifically satisfying.
SPACE SHIT RULES, GUYS.
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Image: Twitter / @perthobs