THE night sky has been lit up by an exploding “fireball” with 1,000 times the power of a cruise missile.
The exploding meteor, with the power equal to that of 540 tonnes of TNT, was spotted flying across the sky in China – stunning witnesses.
The jaw-dropping astronomical phenomenon above the city of Shangri-La in China’s south-western Yunnan Province is is known as a “superbolide” – an exploding meteor brighter than the moon.
The meteor was hard to miss as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere and then shot across the sky just after 8pm, with a number of witnesses recording it on their mobile phones.
Many correctly called it a “shooting star”, but few had seen one so large – and so close.
According to reports, the mid-air blast happened at a relatively low 23 miles, with meteorites likely to have been scattered across the outskirts and villages of Shangri-La.
The US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration confirmed the “fireball” sighting on its Chinese social media page, likening the explosion to 540 tonnes of TNT going off at the same time.
The yield of a Tomahawk cruise missile is equal to half a tonne of TNT.
The bolide is believed to have been larger if not just as strong as the meteor that descended upon the Russian industrial city of Chelyabinsk in 2013.
Officials from Shangri-La said they were searching the area for meteorites and other debris.
It’s not the first time meteors have captured our attention, with a flaming pink object found burning in a family’s garden.