Date
23 October 2017
In this sequence shot, a meteorite lights up the night sky as it falls into the mountains. It landed about 40 km northwest of Shangri-la county in Yunnan province. Photo: Internet
In this sequence shot, a meteorite lights up the night sky as it falls into the mountains. It landed about 40 km northwest of Shangri-la county in Yunnan province. Photo: Internet

Meteor shower lights up Yunnan sky during Mid-Autumn Festival

Some people in Yunnan province were stunned by the rare sight of three meteors exploding in the night sky over Shangri-la county as they were watching the full moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The phenomenon occurred at about 8 p.m. on Oct. 4, with witnesses saying they saw fireballs exploding in the air some 37 kilometers above the ground. Experts said the explosion had a force equivalent to 540 tons of TNT, Apple Daily reports.

It is believed the meteors landed in a small village around 40 km. northwest of Shangri-la.

A netizen who filmed the event said the “sky lit up like day” and felt intense vibrations on doors and window panes.

In many of the clips, a flash of intense light could be seen as a meteorite fell from the sky and into the mountains.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was the first to detect the astronomical event. It clocked the meteorite’s speed at 14.6 km. per second and said it likely landed in a ball of fire.

Local authorities have yet to report any casualties or damage and are searching for the meteorite for research purposes.

A local villager told the paper that he heard a loud bang and felt the ground shake. His pigs were so scared they ran out of the pigsty.

The China Earthquake Network Center said the power of the explosion would be equivalent to a 2.1 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale.

Local sources said it is possible that the meteorite landed in Dêqên county in Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture.

Astronomer Ye Quanzhi from the California Institute of Technology said the hilly terrain woud make it very difficult to locate the meteorite.

However, as the meteor had fallen at a relatively slow speed, there is a higher chance of obtaining bigger samples.

The last meteor shower in China occurred on Nov. 5, 2014 when a meteor exploded over Xilingol in Mongolia with a power equivalent to 450 tons of TNT.

Meteorite hunters rushed to the scene in the hope of finding fragments which could fetch up to 100,000 yuan each. They ended up empty-handed.

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