They say that people engage more with printed news versus digital media. Most people look at digital media and consume it in 15 seconds. But earlier this week, a bit of digital footage and a live show had Michigan in awe.
As we go about our lives, it’s very easy to forget that we’re all inhabitants of a very small rock floating in space. A literal speck in the infinite cosmic grandeur we’re suspended in. From time to time the universe sends a little reminder like the one that recently had Michigan shook. A dazzling light streaked through the sky, causing bright flashes and sounds of explosions, and had locals wondering what in the world (or otherworld) happened.
A lot of people have seen shooting stars and meteor showers, but the magnitude of this cosmic event was a rarity. The noise and fireball together aren’t something many are used to seeing. It was confirmed by NASA that it was indeed a meteor.
Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office noted that the fireball originated from a small asteroid moving at 28,000 miles per hour. When the object entered the atmosphere, it heated up and melted down, producing the fiery, bright light that onlookers reported seeing.
The difference between meteors and meteorites, as distinguished by NASA, is that meteors are the rogue bits of interplanetary material flying through space that enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, leaving the bright streaks you’ve seen before. Meteorites are the broken pieces of a meteor that actually make it to the Earth’s surface. When people go looking for space rocks they’re searching for meteorites.
Although this event has a completely scientific explanation and was confirmed by NASA, people were still freaking out and throwing far-fetched theories around. Everything from UFOs, alien invasions, weapons testing, and whatever other sci-fi inspired imaginative scenarios were involved. Twitter was in full force posting all sorts of silliness. In fact, the Michigan Meteor now has its own Twitter handle.
As fun as it is to flesh out these far-fetched, H.R. Geiger-esque ideas, it’s probably safer to stick with the sound assessment of Bill Cooke flatly saying, “It was definitely a meteor.” Though, his follow up is pretty neat as he notes the rarity of an event with that level of intensity.
We might be specks of stardust out here, but if you saw the Michigan Meteor the other night, you’re cool in Bill’s book: “Anyone who saw it is lucky.”
Thanks, universe. We feel pretty lucky.