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Equivalent to ’30 tons of TNT’: Meteor explodes in Pennsylvania

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Top astronomy events for January 2021

The new year begins with a quick but effective bang with the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower. Then it slows down, capping off the end of January with a bright full moon.

Accuweather

On New Year’s Day, people in southwestern Pennsylvania heard an explosion around 11:20 a.m. EST.

An initial tweet by the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh said the most likely explanation was  a “meteor explosion.”

People all over Pittsburgh took to social media, saying the boom was incredibly loud and shook their house. Others posted footage capturing the crackling sounds of the explosion.

The National Weather Service Pittsburgh noticed a flash captured by its satellite’s Geostationary Lightning Mapper in neighboring Washington County.

“This flash does not appear to be connected to any lightning activity in the area. One possible explanation is that a meteor exploded at some level above the ground,” the weather service said in a post on Facebook.

On Monday, meteorologist Myranda Fullerton of National Weather Service Pittsburgh confirmed with USA TODAY that the flash was indeed a meteor, according to NASA.

Meteor showers: How to spot the upcoming meteor shower, one of the biggest expected for the year

A Facebook post from NASA Meteor Watch said that a “nearby infrasound station registered the blast wave from the meteor as it broke apart.”

The energy of the explosion was equivalent to “30 tons of TNT” and the meteor was likely about a yard in diameter with a mass of close to half a ton, according to estimates by NASA.

If it wasn’t so cloudy, the meteor would have been blindingly bright, with crude estimates from NASA indicating that the meteor was 100 times the brightness of the full moon.

You can reach the author @michelle_shen10 on Twitter. 

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Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staffhttp://www.uticaphoenix.net
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.
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