Turkey, meteor impact

Meteorite crashes in northern Turkey

A powerful fire ball pierced Turkey’s skies on Wednesday night. The unusual phenomenon, which experts believe could be a meteorite, was seen and recorded by many witnesses.

A powerful light struck Turkey‘s skies Wednesday night, triggering the alert among the local population. The phenomenon, which was widely recorded and broadcast on the country’s social networks, appears to have been caused by a meteorite crashing onto Earth, experts say.

The alleged meteorite could be seen in various provinces of north-central Turkey around 20:34 local time (19:34 CET), including Trabzon, Artvin, Erzurum, Sivas, Bingöl, Tunceli or Ardahan. Police in Trabzon province, on the Turkish Black Sea coast, confirmed that “a ball of light” had been spotted crossing the sky and had been seen by numerous witnesses in the area, and that it was investigating numerous reports of sightings.

In provinces like Sivas or Bingöl, Turkish media reported that some inhabitants tried to locate the point where the mysterious object had crashed; while on social media, numerous videos appeared showing the moment when a ball of light pierced the sky illuminating it, before exploding in an explosion of light and then completely fading away.

Experts from Turkey and NASA try to explain the phenomenon

Professor Ozan Ünsalan, from the University of the Aegean in Turkey, told media that the phenomenon sighted last night was probably caused by a meteorite. “It appears to cross from Erzurum to Artvin, and has probably fallen in Sochi (Russia) or Georgia,” said Ünsalan, who leads the Meteorite Tracking Project in Turkey, after interviewing several witnesses of the incident.

“According to our first conclusions, we think that it could have fallen into the sea,” he said, recalling that it is usual to hear the explosion 2-3 minutes after seeing it, because the speed of sound is much slower than that of light.

“I even asked witnesses if there had been a small tremor, because this shaking from the ground can occur, but it depends on the size and structure of the meteorite. It can trigger a small earthquake,” added Ünsalan, who claimed to be in contact with experts from NASA to study the recorded images of the phenomenon.

In 2015, several meteorites crashed in Turkey impacting an unpopulated area near Sarıçiçek, a small town in the eastern province of Bingöl; back then, the inhabitants of the area managed to earn more than a million liras -more than 130,000 euros- from the sale of the meteorites, which were later confirmed to be fragments detached from the asteroid Vesta, the third largest body in the Asteroids Belt between Mars and Jupiter.