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As Person Films, 'Shooting Star' Explodes Into Fireball In Mid Air

A rare and amazing astronomical phenomenon took place recently, and eyewitnesses jumped on social media to share what they saw. The US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration confirmed that the incident wasn't a hoax or a misinterpretation of something else. A shooting star exploded over China.

Shooting stars are not actually stars, and considering real stars are giant balls of burning gas that would dwarf our planet if they got close enough to shoot by, that's a good thing. They're actually meteors, or hunks of space debris hurtling toward the planet and burning up in the atmosphere.

Small meteors are common. We see them on a regular basis, and some people even enjoy sitting out for various 'meteor showers' that take place annually. It's a space show that features random streaks of light far above in the night sky. But sometimes, meteors get even bigger, and even closer, and they put on a much more exciting show.

Witnesses in China say they saw or filmed a huge meteor shooting over the south-western Yunnan Province, in the city of Shangri-La. The large light raced through the dark sky, backlighting clouds until it finally exploded in mid-air, scattering burning debris throughout the region.

According to NASA, the fireball exploded with the force of more than 540 tons of dynamite. Onlookers who were quick to get their cameras rolling caught the spectacular sight.

The phenomenon is known as a 'superbolide', or a meteor that is brighter than the moon exploding over the Earth. This meteor blew when it was a mere 23 miles above ground. Officials are now searching the area for meteorites and other debris.

The incident took place just after 8 p.m., and there were a record number of mobile phones out to record it. Locals took to social media to share the news and spread their videos of the event.

According to NASA, the superbolide that occurred on October 5 over China might be even larger than the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013. That meteor was so strong and so close to earth that witnesses say it was brighter than the sun, and people on the ground could feel the intense heat from the burning space rock.

Before that, a superbolide sailed over Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2009. That one exploded only 10 miles above the planet, a close call, and the impact may have been with a force of up to 50,000 tons of TNT. Thankfully, the debris from that low superbolide ended up landing in the ocean instead of in populated areas.

One of the biggest superbolides in history happened in Tunguska, Russia in 1908. The meteor explosion was so forceful that it flattened a 1200-square mile area, even though the meteor did not directly hit the ground. It has been labeled the largest impact from an exploding meteor in Earth's history, and is estimated that the blast was approximately 15 megatons. That's about 1,000 times greater than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan in World War II.

Source: Mirror, The Sun
Photo: Asia Wire

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