While we’ve been hearing all week about the asteroid 2012 DA14, it seems another object has unexpectedly stolen its thunder. Multiple videos are being posted to YouTube of a fireball in the skies over Central Russia. Dr. Phil Plait of the Bad Astronomy blog has been tweeting some of the best social media coverage, informed by his knowledge of astronomy. Plait emphasizes that the meteor is almost certainly not related to 2012 DA14 as it is both much too early (by about 16 hours) and apparently on a totally different orbital path. It’s quite a coincidence, but it appears to be exactly that.
The meteor was observed over the city of Chelabinsk, east of the Ural mountains just before 9:30 AM local time. The sonic boom shattered windows throughout the city and Russian news sources are reporting injuries numbering 150 at present.
In these videos you can hear the boom captured while people were getting video of the smoke trails overhead.
Again, this appears to be unrelated to 2012 DA14, but at this early point very little is known for sure, including details of the area where fragments may have come down.
Geek Beat will have updates as the story develops and more details become known.
UPDATE: Check out our follow-up post here for more details.