A meteor exploded in the atmosphere above northern Israel on Saturday, with the resulting air burst being audible throughout the country, according to the Israeli Astronomical Association and corroborated by local experts.
Based on the evidence, the meteor impacted somewhere in the northeast a little after 5 p.m., Astronomical Association chairman Igal Patel said.
According to the Givatayim-based nonprofit observatory, witnesses were able to see the bright fireball in the sky even in the late afternoon. It was visible from the center of the country and could likely have been witnessed in other parts of Israel as well.
According to Shlomi Eini of the association’s meteor observation group, the meteor wasn’t something the observers saw coming and all observations were wholly unplanned.
Because it was so bright during relative daylight, and based on images shared online, the meteor was like a bolide, a term used for a very bright meteor that is visible even during the day. The light is caused by the ionized atmosphere, heated up by the meteor’s impact.
“A bolide is normally taken to mean an exceptionally bright meteor, also called a fireball,” Tal Inbar, former head of Tel Aviv University’s Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies Space Research Center, told The Jerusalem Post.
“It is a small object, which sometimes explodes in the air and causes a loud ‘boom’ that can be heard from a large distance. Not all fireballs survive the extreme heat and stress phase of reentering the atmosphere and fail to hit the ground.”
No debris has been found, and it is likely nothing survived the trip to the ground, Patel said.
According to Dr. David Polishook, an asteroid expert at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the meteor was likely one meter in diameter based on his own observations of images and video taken.
“It’s larger than a common meteor, but smaller compared to the Chelyabinsk event,” Polishook told the Post.
What is the Chelyabinsk asteroid?
The Chelyabinsk event refers to the last major asteroid impact to occur on Earth. Back in 2013, a small asteroid exploded in the atmosphere above Chelyabinsk, Russia. Though the explosion was powerful enough to shatter windows, it didn’t result in any other damages, barring a few injuries caused by the shattered glass.
Likewise, no damages were reported from this meteor. It is also currently unclear how strong this meteor impact may have been, or how much it would have weighed. However, even though it may have been only a meter in size, it could still be very heavy due to the density.
This density would depend heavily on the composition, such as if the meteor is made of stone or iron or other substances. According to Patel, this one would likely be no more than a couple hundred kilograms in density.
Meteors originate from asteroids or other large bodies in space. Asteroids under a meter in size are simply known as meteoroids.
When meteoroids or very small asteroids impact the Earth’s atmosphere, they become visible but largely disintegrate, sometimes forming bright fireballs in the process. Anything left upon impact is what is known as a meteorite.
This explosion is what usually befalls most meteors that enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
This isn’t even the first meteor to hit the Earth this month.
Earlier in April, meteorites – fragments of meteors and asteroids – hit the US state of Maine. This also caused no damage, though a local museum did offer a $25,000 reward for anyone who could find a sample that weighed one kilogram.
Also in 2023, a meteor impacted near McAllen, Texas, which, despite weighing as much as four baby elephants combined, did not cause any damage.
Also in 2023, a meteor impacted near McAllen, Texas, which, despite weighing as much as four baby elephants combined, did not cause any damages.