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Meteor blast in Russia has locals talking - abc27 WHTM

Meteor blast in Russia has locals talking

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Panic hit halfway around the world when a meteorite hit a Russian town near Moscow.

The sonic boom created by a 10-metric ton rock exploding in mid-air shattered windows, rocked buildings, and caused a buzz among astronomers all over the world.

Stranger than any science fiction, the reality of a meteorite hitting Siberia created a true galactic phenomenon. Videos captured by cell phones and surveillance cameras have popped up all over the Internet.

While looking at cosmic star maps inside a home on Herr Street, local astronomer Bob Young has been enthralled with it all.

"You go out and see something at great distances, millions of light years away. Here's something right next door that lets you know it's right there with a bang," Young said.

He's not kidding. More than 1,000 people were injured in the wake of the meteorite's sonic boom. Videos show the percussion blowing out windows and even knocking people clear out of their chairs.

Young has studied astronomy ever since he was a kid. Now a member of the Astronomical Society of Harrisburg, he's a self-described "star lover."

As abc27 took around an iPad with the video, we noticed you didn't have to be an expert to acknowledge powers greater than Earth. With jaws dropped, Abby Parker and a group of friends watched the video in awe.

"That's insane!" she said. "That looked like a movie. Was that real?"

Sure was. Astronomers have calculated the meteorite exploded about 30 miles off the ground above the town of Chelyabinsk.

"It was the biggest event like that I've ever seen," Young said.

Ironically, the last event of this magnitude, known as the "Tunguska event," hit Siberia in 1908. About 1,250 square miles of property were destroyed at that time. The latest one caused about $30 million worth of damage.

Crazy thing is, astronomers reported another unrelated outer space event just hours later. A 50-yard-wide asteroid skimmed by our planet Friday afternoon without incident. However, traveling just 17,000 miles above the Earth's atmosphere, astronomers explained the cosmic shave was relatively close.

"[It moved] very quickly past the bowl of the Big Dipper and then past Ursa Minor and the Little Dipper," Young said.

Young explained the asteroid was too far to see with the naked eye. While there was prior notice of the asteroid, astronomers like Young said the Russian meteorite was too small to detect before it entered Earth's atmosphere.

"Most [asteroids/meteoroids] that are bigger than half-a-mile have been identified, but these small ones like this are hard to see," Young said. "You only find them at the last minute."

Parker said the YouTube videos and the like reminded her of a certain Ben Affleck flick.

"It seriously did look like ‘Armageddon,' " said Parker. "It looked like a movie."

But even Hollywood couldn't write this. Pieces of the meteorite are expected to sell for around $700 per gram. Talk about money falling from the sky.

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