Although it struck miles away in central Russia, a meteor hitting earth still makes for an eventful day for local astronomy professors.
The asteroid’s shock wave destroyed buildings and shattered windows, and if it hadn’t hit halfway across the world, it could be a similar scene in the Quad Cities.
“Supersonic aircraft are not allowed to fly low and buzz over your city, but if you took the fastest jet you could find, and flew it as fast as you could over Davenport, you’d probably have a similar thing,” explained Dr. Lee Carkner, director of the John Deere Planetarium at Augustana College.
For local professors like Carkner, it’s a day that doesn’t come every decade or even every century.
“It’s exciting. We would prefer that our objects don’t crash into cities and hurt people, but asteroids are something really important. A lot of things out in space are interesting to study, but asteroids can come here and have come here and have hit the earth before,” said Carkner.
In the past, though, they’ve hit unpopulated areas, and they’ve struck before the perks of modern technology.
“We’ve known this thing could happen, but we haven’t had one happen in the modern era, where there’s been modern video cameras filming it, and where people could witness it firsthand,” said Carkner.
Carkner added that space is full of “stuff,” so things like this can happen at any time.
“It’s an open collaboration when it comes to asteroids; there’s not really a department of asteroids that runs everything. Lots of people are working on it at one time. So, it could be your neighbor who’s out there, who finds the next asteroid that we might be tracking,” said Carkner.