Thursday, January 18, 2018

Meteor over Michigan gives a bright light...and a warning




Photo from ABC News.

Residents of Michigan were treated to a flash of light and a loud boom last Tuesday night.

The National Weather Service said that this phenomenon was not due to thunder and lightning, but rather a meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere. The sonic boom from the space rock registered as a 2.0 magnitude earthquake just outside of Detroit. Security cameras, and other varieties of omnipresent cameras these days, captured pretty impressive footage which you can see at Space.com.

I've seen meteors before, of course. They've taken many forms, such as the ubiquitous "shooting star" that lasts all of a second. I've seen icy blue bursts of light that last smidge longer, but the same overall effect. I have even once witnessed a "fireball" meteor and will not soon forget the hot fragments raining from it as it fell.

The Michigan meteor and the others I've described that many see around the globe each night, are "entertainments" in a way. They grant excitement, they give us something to talk about over morning coffee, and they don't...usually...do any harm. What entered the skies over Michigan could have been much worse, though. To wit...




I've blogged about it several times. 

To me, meteors and asteroids are no mere hunks of rock floating in space. They are humbling. We humans have such an irritating habit of seeing ourselves as the pinnacle of the universe's achievement, when we are more likely its enfant terrible. These inert fragments of planetary debris, acting with no intelligence and utterly enslaved to Newtonian physics, could cause the extinction of humanity and maybe even the erasure of all life from Earth.

They are out there right now, waiting for us in space. It's a numbers game. Eventually, a large enough one will head our way.

Whether or not we can do something about it is a subject of debate.

The phrase for today is "Extinction Level Event".


Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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