Fireballs reported in skies above Cuba and California
Published 18/02/2013 | 11:33
FIREBALLS have been reported above Cuba and California as a meteor streaked across the skies over Russia.
In Cuba, residents have reported seeing a bright light in the sky and a loud explosion that shook windows and walls, although there were no reports of any injuries or damage.
One resident of the city of Rodas, near Cienfuegos, described the light as "bigger than the sun". He said: "On Tuesday we left home to fish around five in the afternoon, and around 8:00 we saw a light in the heavens and then a big ball of fire, bigger than the sun."
Another resident said described how her home was "completely shaken" by the explosion. She added: "I had never heard such a strange thing."
There were also numerous unconfirmed reports of a bright streak of light over the San Francisco Bay area on Friday night.
Scientists at the Chabot Space and Science Center, in Oakland, said it had received calls describing what appeared to be a fireball flying west, but it was not clear what the object was.
Gerald McKeegan, an astronomer, said the centre's telescopes did not pick up the object.
The reports came hours after a meteor exploded over Russia and injured more than 1,000 people and an asteroid passed relatively close to Earth.
The 55 foot wide rock, said by Nasa to have a mass of 10,000 tonnes, lit up the sky above the Urals region on Friday morning, causing shockwaves that injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of homes in an event unprecedented in modern times.
Nasa estimated that the energy released as the meteor's disintigrated in the atmosphere was 500 kilotons, around 30 times the size of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
It entered the atmosphere at 44,000 miles per hour, taking 32.5 seconds to break up at an altitude of around 15 miles above the earth's surface.
The resulting explosion created a shockwave that blew out windows and set of car alarms in Chelyabinsk two and a half minutes later.
The drama in Russia developed just hours before an asteroid - a space object similar to a tiny planet orbiting the sun - whizzed safely past Earth at the unprecedented distance of 17,200 miles.
That put it closer to the ground then some distant satellites and sent off alarm bells ringing in some Russian circles about this being the time for joint global action on the space safety front.
"Instead of fighting on Earth, people should be creating a joint system of asteroid defence," the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee chief Alexei Pushkov wrote on his Twitter account late Friday.
"Instead of creating a (military) European space defence system, the United States should join us and China in creating the AADS - the Anti-Asteroid Defence System," the close ally of President Vladimir Putin wrote.
The US space agency said the 2012 DA 14 asteroid's passing was "the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large."
Nasa estimated that a smallish asteroid such as the 2012 DA 14 flies close to Earth every 40 years on average while only hitting the planet once every 1,200 years.
Astronomers have detected some 9,500 celestial bodies of various sizes that pass near Earth.