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Asteroid, meteor make it a remarkable day for astronomy

Friday, February 15, 2013

It was an interesting day for astronomers Friday, as two major events take place in the same day.

According to astronomers, it is remarkable.

First, it was what scientists have been watching and waiting for about a year, the 'Asteroid 2012 DA14'.

It's the largest asteroid that's come this close to Earth, about 17,000 miles, in 40 years.

The cosmic rock wasn't visible by the naked eye, and could only be viewed from the opposite side of the world.

"It won't be visible to us until later on this evening, even then though you'd have to have a big telescope and know exactly when and where to look," Adler Planetarium astronomer Dr. Mark Hammergren said.

Meanwhile in Russia the pictures and video coming in shows the impact of what some are calling the "Big Bang" meteor, which no one saw coming.

The effect of the sonic boom injured hundreds of people, most of them by flying glass.

"It sounded like an explosion, but it really was a sonic boom caused by this sonic mass moving in the atmosphere very, very quickly,' Hammergren said.

The asteroid's flyby and meteor explosion over Russia, happening in one day, is phenomenal, according to Hammergren.

"It's incredibly rare, I can't think of a similar incident happening like this, it's a great cosmic coincidence is what it is," he said.

It's no surprise that people of all ages are flocking to the meteorite exhibit at the Adler Planetarium to learn more.

Because of all of the atmospheric activity going on, the Adler plans to put back on display a meteorite that crashed into suburban Park Forest in 2003. The large fragmentwill be on display at Alder Saturday February 16 and 17.

Adler Planetarium

1300 S. Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, IL 60605

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