Vyacheslav Nikulin /EPA /LANDOV
A meteor's vapor trail above the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Friday.
So, on the day when an asteroid the size of an office building is due to buzz the planet, there's this unsettling news:
"A meteor streaked across the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and injuring [hundreds of] people, many of them hurt by broken glass. At least three people were reported hospitalized in serious condition." (The Associated Press)
But scientists at the European Space Agency report on their Twitter page that:
"ESA experts confirm *no* link between #meteor incidents in #Russia #Asteroid #2012DA14 Earth flyby of tonight #SSA #NEO"
The sounds and sights from Russia, though, may make you want to look up around 11:24 p.m. ET today, when asteroid 2012 DA14 is due to slip by "only" 17,000 miles above us.
Though we won't be able to see it in the United States, there are other ways to track the celestial fly-by: How to track the asteroid flying by the Earth & other astronomical events in Southern California (Video)
"Yelena Smirnykh, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Emergency Situations, told Ekho Moskvy radio that she believed the meteorite broke apart and fell in several places. Another government expert, who spoke to Moscow FM radio station, said he believed it may have been a bolide, a type of fireball meteor that explodes in the earth's atmosphere because of its composition or angle of entry and can be observed from the ground."
Update at 9:15 a.m. ET. Report Of 950 Seeking Medical Attention:
Russia Today writes that "around 950 people have sought medical attention in Chelyabinsk alone because of the disaster, the region's governor Mikhail Yurevich told RIA Novosti. Over 110 of them have been hospitalized and two of them are in heavy condition. Among the injured there are 159 children, [the] Emergency ministry reported."
Update at 8 a.m. ET. Sound:
We've added an audio player above that has a short sound clip from The Associated Press. You can hear the sonic booms, followed by the sounds of breaking glass and car alarms.
As for the asteroid fly-by, since it's around 2:24 p.m. ET the daylight over North America will keep those of us in the U.S. from seeing anything (we all hope). NASA, though, plans to have live commentary on its website and hopes to have "live or near real-time views of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting."