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Abilene planetarium teacher says, 'meteor explosion a rare event'

By Michelle Frizalone, mfrizalone@ktxs.com
Published On: Feb 15 2013 07:14:59 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

It’s a rare event that hasn't involved people in the last 100 years.

It was a sight that lit up the sky. A meteor exploded Friday morning over central Russia injuring more than 1,000 people and damaging buildings.

Abilene Independent School District planetarium teacher Alan Caffey explained what happens when a meteor is traveling 3,000 miles per hour.

"This one is bigger then most,” Caffey said. “The meteors you see in the sky are about the size of the grain of sand."  

The meteor was so large it created a powerful shock wave when it reached the earth's atmosphere. It occurs very infrequently.

"This ones a fairly rare event this one happens about every 10 to 12 years probably,” Caffey said. “Our last event happened twelve years ago. It happened over the ocean. Since the earth is mostly water most of these events don't happen where the people are."

But this one did, injuring more than 1,000 people including 200 children. What is the likelihood of it happening in Texas?

"We're in a shooting gallery,” Caffey said. “It’s just life. The odds of you getting hit your much more likely to be hit by lightning or winning the lottery then being hit by a meteor."

Most clear nights you can see one to two meteors every hour. But they burn up well before reaching the ground

Large meteors have landed in Texas - long ago. You can still see a large crater near Odessa - caused by a meteor that landed about 63,000 years ago.