Sunday 17 February 2013


One of my favourite movies is “Armageddon” starring Bruce Willis. The plot is that a large asteroid is streaking towards earth and if nothing is done about it, the earth and all life will be destroyed. It falls upon Bruce and his drilling team to plant explosives that will break the asteroid in two pieces which will then just miss the planet. It was exciting and entertaining, but just a little far fetched.
 The trail of a falling object is seen above a residential apartment block in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, in this still image taken from video shot on Feb. 15, 2013. (OOO Spetszakaz /REUTERS)
Well, until yesterday it was far fetched. Now after the events in the sky above Chelyabinsk it has become very real indeed. I don’t think that Bruce Willis was involved at all, but you never know. The photos and videos of the meteor looked amazingly like they did in the movie. I can’t imagine how terrifying the experience must have been.

The meteor entered earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 54,000 Km/H and exploded about 20 kilometres high. The trail it left was 480 kilometres long and the explosion had the force 20 times that of the bomb that devastated Hiroshima. The shock wave blew out about 100,000 square meters of glass, damaged about 3000 buildings and there were about 1100 people injured. The temperature in the area was to be about minus twenty and without windows they are going to have a very cold night. I guess it was fortunate that the “big” one missed the planet.

Yeah, this was a relatively small chunk of rock that no one saw coming. Everyone was looking at a rock the size half a football field that was giving the planet a near miss. In the movie, they say that we can only watch about 1% of the sky around the planet and even if we did see a “planet killer” there wouldn’t be anything we could do about it. Well, not without Bruce and his team anyways.

The last time a meteor like this hit the planet it was in 1908 and again it was in Siberia. It is surprising that it didn’t hit a body of water which makes up about 2/3 of the surface of the planet. I wonder what kind of devastation that would cause? The article I read states that the atmosphere absorbed the majority of the energy. Thank God!

I still like the movie “Armageddon” but the next time I watch it, the streaks across the sky won’t just be cool special effects. I hope that the people are all right and that it is another 100 years or so before another one of these things happen. Maybe by then we will be able to do something to protect ourselves.

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