10:04 AM EST, February 15, 2013
It seems like the end of the world as a giant meteor exploded over the sky in Russia.
Many thought they were under attack. Everyone was in a state of panic as buildings shook, windows shattered, and nearly 1,000 people were hurt. Video captured the meteor's every moment.
Astrophysicist Neal deGrasse Tyson of the Museum of Natural History explained what happened to INSIDE EDITION’s Diane McInerney.
He said, "The meteor enters the atmosphere right here, going seven miles per second, it explodes right there! That explosion created a shock wave, and when you have a shock wave it rattles things and breaks windows. The injuries that are reported are mostly from shattered glass."
The numbers are staggering. The meteor weighed an estimated ten tons, and hurtled over Russia’s Ural Mountains at 33,000 miles per hour which is faster than the speed of sound.
A fragment of the meteor created a giant hole in the Earth. Most of it actually burned away before making impact with Earth.
Tyson said, "I'm happy the thing didn't hit - it would have made a giant crater and destroyed buildings!"
McInerney asked, "When you heard about it, what was your reaction?
He replied, "I said, ‘I wonder if this is related to something that's happening this afternoon?’"
The meteor arrived a day before an asteroid the size of an Olympic pool will be passing within 17,000 miles of planet Earth.
In the movie Armageddon, a shower of small meteors struke New York City before the arrival of a gigantic meteor the size of Texas.
But Tyson says the Russian meteor and the passing asteroid are totally unrelated.
He said, "There are no asteroids that will collide with us in the foreseeable future, but we know they're out there."
So it looks as if planet Earth is safe from a cataclysmic meteor, for now.