Russian meteorite hits home for Cincinnati scientists - | WBTV Charlotte

Russian meteorite hits home for Cincinnati scientists

Meteor seen in Russia on Friday (CNN) Meteor seen in Russia on Friday (CNN)
The Barringer or Meteor Crater located in the Arizona desert The Barringer or Meteor Crater located in the Arizona desert

Injuries from the meteorite that struck Russia on Friday continue to rise. Officials say its explosion had the force of 20 atomic bombs, injuring more than 1,000 people as it flashed across the Russian sky, leaving an impact crater on the outskirts of a city about 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk.

Scientists agree Friday was a very rare event, and the impact felt across the world in Cincinnati rattled even the most experienced scientists who study the sky for a living.

"I was scare to death when I first saw that," said Dean Regas, Astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory.

Meteors start as chunks of rock and debris in space. They become 'meteors' when they fall through a planet's atmosphere and leave a bright trail as they're heated by the friction of the atmosphere, as seen in Russia. Regas said Friday's meteor 'came out of nowhere', and was clocked at about 30,000 miles per hour.

"When it's out in space it's very, very cold. Then it hits the atmosphere and heats up tremendously, very quickly," he explained.

A meteorite is defined as any object that enters the atmosphere of another object, and survived to impact the surface.

The closest meteorite to hit the Tri-State was more than 300 million years ago, about an hour east of Cincinnati near Peebles, Ohio. The crater is centered around Serpent Mound and has a diameter of about 5 miles wide.

In Kentucky, the 'Jeptha Knob' hit the present-day Shelby County some 425 million years ago, leaving a crater the diameter of 3 miles wide.

In total, there are 28 known meteorite impact features in the United States.

Back in Cincinnati, the Observatory is taking advantage of Friday's rare event.

"We're using it as an educational moment. A teachable moment to get people knowing a little bit more about the solar system, and hopefully to get excited about science," said Regas.

In the last 100 years, there have only been three major meteorite strikes in a populated area around the world.

Perhaps the most surprising part: No one has been killed from a direct hit.

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