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A bright fireball over Tokyo explodes with the force of 165 tons of TNT

A space rock reportedly causes a sonic boom as it crashes into our atmosphere over Japan.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Contributing editor Eric Mack covers space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Eric Mack
2 min read

The skies over Tokyo were lit up by an explosive extraterrestrial object early Thursday morning that also came with a sonic boom, according to some reports. 

Videos of the event show a spectacular light with green and purplish hues flying across the sky for just a few seconds at around 2:30 a.m. local time, before the light fizzles out. 

"I thought a person living (in the condo) above knocked down a shelf," one local said, according to the Japan Times.

The impact of what was likely a small asteroid colliding with our atmosphere was picked up by a few of the infrasound monitoring stations set up around the world and overseen by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

The International Meteor Organization reports that the meteoroid was visible from a large part of Japan's Kanto region.

"We were able to calculate a source energy of the entering asteroid of about (165 tons or 150 metric tonnes) of TNT," reads an IMO blog post

The IMO estimates the space rock could've been around 5 feet (1.6 meters) in diameter with a mass of around 1.8 tons (1.6 metric tons). For a comparison, the meteoroid that exploded over Russia in 2013 and blew out thousands of windows in the city of Chelyabinsk was likely 10 to 20 times more massive.

Fireballs are common occurrences, though one large enough to generate a sonic boom is a rarer event, especially when it passes over one of the largest cities in the world. Remember to keep one eye on the sky!