Make an explosive entry into Earth’s atmosphere in this stereoscopic 360° video of the Chelyabinsk meteor’s arrival in February 2013—an immersive scene from our new planetarium show, “Incoming!”
For decades, we have detected explosive airbursts caused by meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere. The most powerful one took place on February 15, 2013, over the Russian city Chelyabinsk, and we have reconstructed that event using observational data. A stony meteor almost 20 meters in diameter (slightly smaller than Morrison Planetarium) exploded in the upper atmosphere, leaving behind a trail of dust and debris that stretched more than a hundred kilometers. The explosion also created a burst of light brighter than the Sun and a shockwave that shattered windows and damaged buildings in places we highlight in the video. Nearly 1,500 people sought medical attention in the days after the blast, mostly for injuries from shattered glass. At the end of the video, we compare the size of the affected region to the area of metropolitan New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, and greater Tokyo.