Bumps in the night: Meteor’s sonic boom rouses city from its sleep

THE meteor shower responsible for the almighty “boom” that shattered the peace yesterday morning is expected to peak tonight.

Slumbering locals were given the rudest of awakenings about 1.30am when a mysterious explosion over Tamworth rattled windows and shook foundations.

Suspecting foul play, shocked residents took to social media in droves to discuss the noise in anticipation of the emergency services sirens, which never came.

Just before 3.30am, the Oxley Local Area Command issued a statement saying it had received “numerous calls” of concern from people right across the city.

“Police patrolled several areas of Tamworth in response to these calls, however, no damage was located,” the statement read.

“At this time, it is believed the explosion can be attributed to (an)unknown falling object, possibly a meteorite.”

Tamworth taxi driver Ryan Newberry said he witnessed a “shooting star” while driving in the South Tamworth area.

“The main part of what I saw was white/gold with a green tail, and the bits falling off the tail were orange,” he said.

Astronomer Dave Reneke said, from the eyewitness accounts, he could confidently say the explosion was a sonic boom caused by a meteorite.

He said each year about this time the Earth passed through debris – known as the Perseid cloud – emanating from the Swift-Tuttle comet.

Mr Reneke said the meteorite would likely have been only about the size of a cricket ball or baseball and detonated 20 to 30 kilometres above Tamworth.

“The rocks come in about 30 to 40 kilometres a second and a lot of heat builds up and they basically explode,” he said.

“You get a sound wave associated with that and a flash of light. When they explode, they are extremely loud – like the loudest clap of thunder.”

Mr Reneke said anyone hoping to find the smouldering remains of a meteorite in a paddock somewhere would be sorely disappointed.

“This would have more than likely blown itself to smithereens,” he said.

Mr Reneke said the Perseid meteorite shower would be at its most spectacular tonight or early tomorrow morning, but the chances of another sonic boom were extremely slim.

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