Russian Meteor Fertile Ground for High Tech Exploration…On Your Classroom Computer

The fall of what is unofficially named the Chelyabinsk Meteor (soon to be meteorite) has produced a staggering number of videos. Whether police dashboard camera, cell phone, ATM camera, traffic camera, parking lot, or just one of hundreds of security cameras, clear video of the event from multiple perspectives, angles, and capture methods has packed YouTube with a never-seen-before collection of amazing footage.

On October 9, 1992, a meteor flew across the eastern half of the United States. No less than 16 video cameras were pointed at the light blazing across the sky (it helped that it was a Friday night and high school football was in full swing). Although multiple pieces are clearly seen flying through the air, only one piece was recovered. And that piece just happened to have smashed in the back end of a 1980 Chevy Malibu. Named the Peekskill Meteorite, the bread loaf-sized rock was one of the best photographed meteorite falls ever.

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Then in 2003, a meteorite fell in Park Forest, Illinois. Although it was near midnight, there were plenty of active cameras rolling including police dashboard cameras, and a TV crew filming the fire department working on a blaze.

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And now, once again a the photons from a meteor and its left over smoke trail have been captured with updated technology. And it doesn’t end there. By combining some creative problem solving, a little math, plus Google Earth, and photoshop, some rather sophisticated results have emerged. One such person who took on the challenge is Stefan Geens who posted his work on the Ogle Earth blog.

Here is one of his creations described by Stefan as, “Using all this information, I was able to do some image analysis in Photoshop on the lengths and angles of the shadows as the meteor streaked across the sky.” The inclusion of this animated image is used with his permission.

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The post in its entirety can be read here: http://ogleearth.com/2013/02/reconstructing-the-chelyabinsk-meteors-path-with-google-earth-youtube-and-high-school-math/

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