SCIENCE
04/22/2013 04:17 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2013

Argentina Meteor: Fireball Explodes, Turns Night Sky Bright As Day (VIDEO)

A brilliant meteor explosion briefly turned the night sky bright as day in Santiago del Estero, Argentina on Sunday, April 21 -- and the event was captured on video by nearby concertgoers and traffic and security cameras.

Jorge Coghlan, director of the Santa Fe Astronomical Observatory, said in a radio interview that the fireball was caused by a space rock measuring 40 to 45 centimeters (about 1.5 feet) that entered the atmosphere at more than 130,000 kilometers (81,000 miles) per hour, according to a translation by The Huffington Post.

Coghlan urged skepticism regarding YouTube videos that purportedly caught the meteor explosion, adding that the videos taken by security cameras and by attendees at a neighboring concert given by Argentine folk band Los Tekis were reliable.

After the meteor exploded, a "halo" appeared in the sky over Santiago del Estero just before sunrise. According to Nuevo Diario, a Santiago del Estero newspaper, Coghlan said the halo and the meteor explosion were unrelated.

The website of Nuevo Diario also compiled traffic and security camera footage from the time of the incident, which took place around 3:26 a.m. local time. According to a HuffPost translation of the website, the meteor disintegrated 65 kilometers (about 40 miles) above the earth.

Although the explosion certainly startled onlookers (particularly at the concert), it was much smaller than the one that blew up over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February.

The Chelyabinsk meteor is estimated to have measured between 17 and 20 meters (55 to 65 feet), according to NASA. More than 1,000 people were injured -- mostly by broken glass -- after the meteor exploded over the Ural mountains.

NASA estimates that 1,000 to 10,000 tons of meteoric material fall to earth each day, but most of it goes unnoticed because the fragments are so tiny.

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