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VIDEO: A Small Asteroid Lit the Arizona Night Sky

Jun 08, 2016 06:46 AM EDT
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Bright Leonid Fireball
A fireball in a form of a small asteroid lit up the Arizona night sky last June 2. According to NASA, in the last 20 years, the U.S. government said detected around 600 small asteroids in Earth's atmosphere.
(Photo : Nasa/Getty Images)

An asteroid unexpectedly lighted the quiet Arizona night sky last June 2. The fireball has strong flares, which illuminated the night sky. The sky nighttime sky turned into day for less than a minute due to the asteroid.

The residents caught the celestial event on video, seeing the asteroid approximately 5-feet (1-2 meters). Experts say that the rock collided with Earth's atmosphere, creating a fireball capable of illuminating the sky. The fireball was so bright that the NASA's meteor cameras were overpowered by the light of the asteroid according to a report by Space.com.

It was visible in the town of Payson in Arizona and was likely moving at 40,200 mph when it approached Earth's atmosphere.

  

Based on statistics, there are about 80 to 100 tons of materials that fall on Earth from space like dust and meteorites. In the last 20 years, for example, the U.S. government detected about 600 small asteroids.

Although no one reported if the asteroid made an impact on Earth, as it was last seen above the Tondo National Forest, part of it could have survived and fallen on Earth.

"There are no reports of any damage or injuries -- just a lot of light and few sonic booms," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in a statement published by UPI. "If Doppler radar is any indication, there are almost certainly meteorites scattered on the ground north of Tucson," Cooke added.

The NASA Meteoroid Environments Office (MEO) has cameras dedicated to monitoring small rocks near Earth to assess the risks of these rocks to the planet.  But during the recent asteroid sighting, the bright light is made it difficult for scientists to obtain data about the event said NASA in a press release.

This event left a bewildered and curious population due to the bizarre light show and the sonic boom accompanying the asteroid. But for NASA, this is treated as another chance to assess and study the threat of near-Earth objects who could have made an impact on Earth. 

 

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