An asteroid hit Canada a few hours after it was discovered, social media users shared their views.
Asteroid collisions with the Earth are a reality; Stephen Hawking himself believed that this should be a powerful reason to motivate humans to leave the Earth. And while the chances of a sizable asteroid, like the one that ended with the dinosaurs, crossing the Earth again are low, it’s still a latent danger that we cannot dismiss. In Canada, a minor asteroid crashed into the territory of the North American country, and the most worrying thing is that astronomers were not able to detect it until a few hours before the impact.
Astronomers detected a space rock heading directly toward Earth. The discovery came just a few hours before the object crossed the atmosphere and collided in Canada on the morning of November 19. The asteroid fell near Lake Erie, which borders the province of Ontario to the north.
This is not the first time astronomers have discovered a near-Earth asteroid at the last moment; however, this time the object crossed through a populated area, so there were many witnesses to the event.
Ye Quanzhi, who is an astronomer at the University of Maryland, is dedicated to the study of near-Earth objects such as comets, asteroids, and meteors. It was he who reported through his Twitter account that the object was approaching our planet. On November 19 at 1:13 EDT he said on his account:
“Looks like a space rock is going to fall into Lake Erie area in -2 hours (about 3:30 am EST).”
In his tweet, he also included NASA’s CNEOS hazard assessment site, where the information on object C8FF042 was located. However, the link is now down since the asteroid collided with Earth and has now been removed from the catalog of nearby objects considered hazardous.
The asteroid was seen in the skies over Canada.
Later, physicist Richard Moissl shared also via Twitter, the predicted time with a more precise time of impact.
“Another imminent impactor has been spotted. Likely less than 1 meter in diameter, this will become a pretty harmless fireball to observe. Predicted time of atmospheric entry is 8:26 UTC [3:26 EST], over the Great Lakes.”
Surprisingly, the time estimate turned out to be incredibly accurate as skywatchers were able to see asteroid C8FF042 at exactly the time indicated. Between 3:25 and 3:26 EST, the object crossed the Earth’s atmosphere and as a result of the friction between the rock and the gases in the atmosphere, a fireball could be seen flying through the Toronto sky.
Users of the social network shared their experiences when they felt the asteroid, less than one meter in diameter, enter the atmosphere. They said they heard a loud rumble and even a small tremor, probably as a result of the sonic boom. They also added amazing photos of the object in the sky and videos showing the beauty behind the astronomical phenomenon. Although it also makes us think about how vulnerable we are to the whims of the cosmos.
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera
Cover photo: Dereck Bowen