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Australia Today

A Giant Meteor Exploded Over Perth Last Night

The photo makes it look like the moon, but it was actually a lump of rock "airbursting” in the upper atmosphere.

by Gavin Butler
29 August 2018, 8:40am

A giant, flaming meteor was spotted over Western Australia last night, lighting up the sky and rattling windows as it hurtled towards earth.

Phones at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services lit up at about 7:40 PM, ABC reported, as a number of concerned people called to make reports of strange lights raining down over Perth.

“We saw a really bright light and felt the boom about two or three minutes afterwards,” said Robyn Garratt, from the Western Australian town of York. “It shook the house, rattled the windows, it was pretty scary.”

Turns out the “boom” that Robyn referred to was the result of the meteor breaking the sound barrier. Matt Woods from the Perth Observatory told VICE that “when the meteorite’s in space it’s travelling at anywhere between 30 and 70 kilometres per second, faster than the speed of sound. So when it hits our atmosphere it causes a sonic boom, and that’s what rattled the houses.”

Matt went on to reveal that the meteor—a “decent-sized, quite large fireball”, in his estimation—probably “airbursted” in the sky near York, exploding into several different pieces before it hit the ground.

“The reason it glows is because of the compression of the atmosphere starts to bake it and it starts to melt,” he said. “When it heats the rock entirely is when you get the rock exploding, so it’s probably come down in a few pieces.”

It is understood that members from Curtin University’s Fireballs in the Sky meteor-tracking team are now out looking for those pieces, though the specific crash sites are currently unknown. In any case, Matt insists these types of meteors aren’t usually a cause for concern.

“There have been times when these types of meteors have landed and done some slight damage to the house. Someone’s even been hit and survived,” he said.

“At most they might damage the roof and you might get a rock in your living room.”

This article originally appeared on VICE AU.