5 June 2018

South Africa: Asteroid Lights Up the Sky as it Crashes on South Africa, Botswana Border

Cape Town — A 2-metre-wide asteroid illuminated the sky above the South Africa-Botswana border as it burned up in a fireball caught on CCTV footage, Space.com reports.

The rock, labelled 2018 LA, was first spotted by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, according to Gizmodo. After determining that 2018 LA was on a collision course with the planet, researchers predicted several locations were it might land before concluding that southern Africa would be where it would most likely land.

According to the New York Post, Asteroid trackers at NASA determined that the asteroid was too small to pose any danger. "This was a much smaller object than we are tasked to detect and warn about," NASA's planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, said in a statement. "However, this real-world event allows us to exercise our capabilities and gives some confidence our impact prediction models are adequate to respond to the potential impact of a larger object."

CCTV camera footage from Barend Swanepoel and Wikus van Zyl from a farm near Klerksdorp captured 2018 LA illuminating the night sky as it burned through the atmosphere, this report from The South African says. It can be seen growing in speed and size before it finally crashes in a bright flash.

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