Guest essay by Eric Worrall

No harm done on this occasion – but surely this is yet another reminder the world faces more serious risks than a gentle wobble in the global temperature.

‘Sonic boom’ in Dorset blamed on ‘fireball meteor’

An “extremely rare” meteor known as a daytime fireball has been blamed for a sonic boom-type noise heard across parts of England.

People in Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Jersey reported hearing a loud bang and seeing a streak of light in the sky on Saturday afternoon.

After analysing pictures and videos, experts confirmed they showed a meteor.

They have urged people to keep an eye out and report any fallen fragments of the space rock.

Simon Proud, a specialist in aviation meteorology at the University of Oxford, captured the meteor – which appeared as a bright flash – flying over the UK on a weather satellite.

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Two larger meteors also brushed past Earth in the last week, including a 900m monster which could cause catastrophic damage if it ever strikes the planet.

Meteors are low risk potentially high impact events. The risk of a dinosaur killer, or a lesser large impactor which causes widespread damage without shattering the biosphere, is very low. But as the residents of Chelyabinsk discovered in 2013, even a small meteor can shake up your day.

Another notable event was the East Mediterranean Event, a nuclear scale airburst caused by a meteor which struck the atmosphere on June 6th 2003. The event occurred during the middle of a heated confrontation between India and Pakistan. Concerns were expressed that if the meteor had struck 3000 miles further East, over the India / Pakistan border, it might have been mistaken for a nuclear first strike.

The sad thing is the possibility of a Tunguska scale meteor randomly destroying a major city or even triggering a devastating nuclear exchange is a risk we could actually afford to address – at least to the extent of funding more surveillance.

The following is my favourite meteor video – high quality footage captured in Lapland.

via Watts Up With That?

March 22, 2021 at 08:11AM