Biggest Chelyabinsk meteorite caught on video crashing into Lake Chebarkul


Security camera video showing the impact of the largest piece of the Chelyabinsk meteorite striking Lake Chebarkul on Feb. 15, 2013. Credit: Nikolaj Mel’nikov

While it may not be much to look at, the simple fact that it was recorded at all makes it an incredibly rare and invaluable document of the great Russian meteorite fall.  You’ll recall that a house-sized meteoroid created a gigantic fireball over Chelyabinsk in Russia’s Ural Mountain region on Feb. 15 this year. It was probably the most photographed fireball in history thanks to all the dashcams that recorded the scene as people headed to work on that clear, cold morning.

Five Chelyabinsk meteorite fragments weighing a total of just 7 grams. Credit: Bob King

The meteoroid or tiny asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere that day was the size of a five-story building, but it broke up into thousands of much smaller pieces from the pressure and shock of hitting our protective blanket of air at over 41,000 mph (66,960 km/hr) or 60 times the speed of sound.

Frame grab from the video showing the movement of the ice and snow cloud created by the impact of the 1/2-ton meteorite. I still can’t be sure of seeing the meteorite itself but the cloud isn’t too hard to spot.

One of those pieces – the largest found to date – punched a 20-foot-wide (6-meter) hole in Lake Chebarkul about 43 miles southwest of Chelyabinsk. No one witnessed the moment of impact, but divers using special equipment discovered a half-ton meteorite buried in the muck in the bottom of the lake. The rock was finally fished out with great effort on Oct. 16 and taken ashore to be weighed. As it was lifted in

 

The 20-foot hole in the ice of Lake Chebarkul from the impact of a large hunk of Chelyabinsk meteorite. Credit: AP

Meteors leave brilliant trails that make a great spectacle; large ones like Chelyabinsk leave trails that linger for many minutes, providing countless opportunities for photos. But what about the stuff that survives the fiery plunge and makes it to the ground as meteorites?

Very rarely does anyone ever see a meteorite strike the ground. Video or still picture recordings are rarer still. That’s why it’s worth a minute to study the Chebarkul video to appreciate what you’re seeing. It recently popped up on Youtube as part of an online presentation on the Chelyabinsk airburst by Peter Jenniskens, noted meteorite expert and senior research scientist at the SETI Institute. You can watch Jenniskens’ full report HERE.


Biggest hunk of Chelyabinsk meteorite pulled from Lake Chebarkul

When you watch the video, make it “full-screen” and focus your attention on the area to the left of the small, rectangular ice fishing shack at the top middle of the image. In the slowed-down part of the footage you’ll see a cloud of ice and snow blow up and quickly drift to the right of the shack immediately after impact. Can you see it? If not, I grabbed the video frame showing the moment-by-moment sequence. Give this a look and watch the video again.

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

2 thoughts on “Biggest Chelyabinsk meteorite caught on video crashing into Lake Chebarkul

  1. I think this might be a little more common than we think.
    My next door neighbour was cutting the grass in the back of his house and a meteorite hit the ground right next to him. I have a piece. Cool stuff.

    Anyone know where I can buy a piece of the russian meteorite?

    • Nick,
      It still is an extremely uncommon thing. Before you can be certain the rock that hit the ground next to your friend is a meteorite, it should be tested. If you’d like to buy a piece of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, there are many pieces from reputable dealers on eBay, both in Russia and in the U.S. (U.S. prices are generally higher). I can recommend: fujmon (Gary Fujihara, U.S.), andivona (Lithuania), azmeteorites (Arizona), meteorytura (Poland) and flash150213 (Russia).

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