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Asteroid 2008 TC3 Hits Sudan October 7, 2008

Posted by dorigo in astronomy, internet, news, science.
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An asteroid with a size of a few meters in diameter hit the Earth a few hours ago. The news is reported by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, circular 8990. Below is the expected trajectory of the body.

The small asteroid was discovered yesterday at Mt. Lemmon by R.A.Kowalski, as an object with a visual magnitude of about 30.4. The object was then at about 450,000 kilometers from our planet. Those who were able to look up this night might have spotted it before it entered our atmosphere only with a telescope, since its expected magnitude was probably around 11. A bright fireball might have been observed over northern Africa, and a possible fall might have resulted, depending on the composition of the rock.

More information is available at the CBAT site.

UPDATE: the body was 5 meters in diameter. It was a carbonaceous chondrite, and its darkness explains why the diameter had been underestimated by luminosity measurements before the impact. It is quite likely that many small bodies will be found in northern Sudan, which is above the impact point of the asteroid.

Also worth noting is that dr. Peter Brown, from West Ontario University, detected a sound wave from the impact with detectors located in Kenya.

The fireball made by the body at 4.46AM yesterday has been spotted by a airplane pilot from Air France-KLM, according to Jacob Kuiper, a meteorologist from the Netherlands who had informed the pilots of the possibility before the impact. The fall has freed an energy of about two kilotons of TNT, about a tenth of the energy of the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima.

UPDATE: thanks to the Meteosat, we now have a picture of the event. It is a temperature scan, which shows the impact of the object with the atmosphere. It is the first time that the impact of a body with the Earth is predicted and then observed. Near-Earth object surveys are getting better and better…

On the upper right you can read off a temperature legend, in degrees Kelvin.


1. Edward Beshore - October 7, 2008

Hi –

Visual magnitude at discovery was ~19. The absolute magnitude (the visual magnitude of the object at ~93M miles, 1 astronomical unit) was ~30.

Edward Beshore
Catalina Sky Survey
Tucson, AZ

2. dorigo - October 7, 2008

Hi Edward,

thank you for your note – yes, I got it wrong in the post.


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[…] the early hours of the morning , at 1.53am UT over Sudan, a long way away from London. You can read here more about the whole event. When I went to bed last night I forgot all about it, but for some […]

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6. madlogic - October 8, 2008

Was it located? If so, any word on the composition?

7. legoless - October 8, 2008


8. Pheak Tol - October 8, 2008

anybody looking at it yet? this asteroid could be a small chunk of a bigger piece..

9. Asteriod Strikes Earth « From The Minds Of… - October 8, 2008

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10. ktmiller - October 8, 2008

That is incredible! Thank you for all the info!

11. dorigo - October 9, 2008

Hi all,

I have no further information on this fall unfortunately, but if you do please drop a line below.


12. Eduardo - October 9, 2008

I, Eduardo Mendoza, Laredo Texas U.S.A, saw with binocalurs a bright light in the night sky. The center of the light was shining crimson red. I reported what I witnessed that night to the local news media (Pro 8 News) about three to four hours before impact. (estimated time). I have a strong feeling more of these mini-sized asteroids our currently hovering Earth’s atmosphere.

Please note I gaze the heavens from sheer curiousity and amusement when time permits. Most of the time my collective efforts are geared towards ancient history books. By no means am I an expert of astronomy.

13. VIVALABAM - November 14, 2008

i bought it one eBay.

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