A mysterious green fireball was recently seen in the skies above Russia’s high-tech weapons research city. Are the Russians showing off one of Vladimir Putin “secret weapons” the area is known for, or was this merely a meteorite exploding over a highly conspicuous location?
For now, little is known about the mystery light in the sky. In the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 27, motorists driving near the research town of Akademgorodok in southern Siberia spotted a bright green flash followed by a tail streaking across the sky. It’s Russia, so of course several dash cams caught the incident on film. Russians love dash cams.
Russia’s state-run media has explained the incident as a meteor explosion - although they also noted that local astronomers are “somewhat bewildered” by the event because no meteor events were expected in the area. Ilya Orlov, deputy director of the Big Novosibirsk Planetarium, says that while the phenomenon was beautiful, he and fellow researchers are at a loss to explain what may have caused it:
Most likely, this is a flash of bolide, that is, the fall of a bright meteor with a flash. It is all the more surprising because there are no active meteor showers now. It can be either the tail of a [Leonid] meteor shower or a lone meteor. We need to find out.
Russian social media has been full of speculation ranging from secret rocket launches to tests of “extremely advanced weapons,” and aliens, naturally. With other unexplained explosions being caught on camera around the world, it really makes you wonder if we aren't experiencing an uptick in meteorite impacts - or are we just catching them on camera more frequently in the dash cam/smartphone age?
Akademgorodok was established at the height of the Cold War to be a scientific research center and today remains a research and education hub for Siberia. Some of the research facilities there are involved in nuclear research, laser physics, and chemical kinetics and combustion, while the nearby Russian State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology is believed to conduct some of the most deadly chemical and biological weapons research on the planet and houses one of the last samples of smallpox in the world.
Let’s hope it was just a meteor explosion.