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Video: Small Asteroid Causes Sonic Boom Over Arizona

Turning night into day.

| 2 min read

Turning night into day.

In the wee morning hours of June 2, a small asteroid blazed across Arizona’s skies. Luckily for us, the spectacular event was caught on video.

According to NASA, the unnamed asteroid was about 5 feet (1 to 2 meters) wide and originated from beyond the orbit of Mars. It was likely traveling around 40,200 miles per hour (64,700 kilometers per hour) when it entered Earth’s atmosphere east of the town of Payson, Arizona, at 3:56 a.m. local time (6:56 a.m. EDT).

The impact of the asteroid with Earth’s atmosphere created such a bright fireball that it saturated (blinded) NASA meteor cameras in the region and turned night into day, as seen in this video below.

Footage from the Sedona Red Rock camera shows how brightly the ground was illuminated by the fireball. Video Credit: Sedona Red Rock Cam/EarthCam

Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said in a NASA statement that it was the brightest fireball detected in the 8-year history of NASA's All Sky Fireball Network. The network is a network of cameras that monitors fireball activity across the USA. Events like these are not rare. In fact, Earth gets hit by about 100 tons of space debris every single day.

Although the explosion temporarily blinded most of the cameras that saw it, which complicated NASA's efforts to determine the object’s size, they were able to determine that the mass of the asteroid was a few tons and it exploded with a kinetic energy of approximately half a kiloton.

The impact was not as powerful as the Chelyabinsk meteor that occurred on February 15, 2013. The Chelyabinsk fireball released about 40 times more energy than the one in Arizona and injured more than 1,200 people.

Luckily, there are no reports of any injuries or damage related to the impact, "just a lot of light and few sonic booms," Bill Cooke said. "If Doppler radar is any indication, there are almost certainly meteorites scattered on the ground north of Tucson."

Time to hunt for meteorites!

You might also like: A Huge Meteor Hit Earth and You Probably Didn’t Even Hear About It

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