It's not an everyday occurrence that a meteorite lights up the sky, which is what makes this recent experience in China more special.
A Meteorite Sails Across The Sky In China
On June 1, residents of the Yunnan in southwest China witnessed an illuminated meteorite soar across the night sky. The incident happened at 9:41 p.m. local time.
The meteorite was visible from the province's Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna. Witnesses who saw the meteorite outside said that it looked like a "flaming ball," and it made a thunder-like noise.
People who were inside at the time were startled by the dazzling light. They went out to the streets to catch a quick glimpse of the meteorite.
The fiery glow of the meteorite stunned the residents. The meteorite was very quick, and it disappeared a few seconds later. There were no details about where the meteorite landed.
One video captured the entire moment of the meteorite bursting across the sky. People's Daily China shared the video on Twitter. As of June 2, the video was liked 288 times.
Some residents were not sure that it was a meteorite at first, and a few people called the authorities. The Yunnan Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences confirmed that this was a bolide, which is a very bright meteor. The fire on the meteor was a result of the incredible friction it experienced as it entered the Earth's atmosphere.
How Often Does A Bolide Enter Earth's Sky?
Every day there are meteors that enter Earth's atmosphere and burn out before becoming visible. Professor Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario in Canada told Space.com that big meteors are only visible about once every two to three years. In January, a meteor swept across the sky over parts of Michigan and Canada.
A meteor would have to likely be an extremely bright bolide in order to be visible on a wide scale. There is also another version of a bolide called a superbolide, which has an apparent magnitude of -17 or brighter. Notable superbolide events include the one in South Sulawesi from 2009 and the Chelyabinsk meteor from 2013.
The largest impact event in Earth history was the Tunguska event from 1908. A large meteorite struck near the Stony Tunguska River in Russia, and it flattened the land. There were reportedly no casualties from the collision, but there were rumored to be two fatalities. Over 80 million trees were knocked down because of the meteorite.
Incredible moment: A meteorite was captured in the city of Jinghong, southwest China's #Yunnan Province on Friday and lit up the night sky. pic.twitter.com/fuM14KpuQ0 — People's Daily,China (@PDChina) June 2, 2018