WSU planetarium director shares his thoughts on Russian meteor - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

WSU planetarium director shares his thoughts on Russian meteor

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Claude Pruneau is the director of the planetarium at Wayne State  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Claude Pruneau is the director of the planetarium at Wayne State (Credit: Fox 2 News)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Talking about the massive asteroid that passed by Earth Friday afternoon in astronomy class at Wayne State can't compare to the cosmic surprise that rained down over Russia earlier in the day.

"There are literally thousands of these objects, the so-called near earth objects, NEOs, out there.  It's a pretty scary proposition," said Claude Pruneau.

Super scary when you consider what happened in Russia.

"It's crazy.  I was surprised it was unrelated the asteroid that's going by us today," said student Andrew Pixley.

"I think we should definitely spend more money and really see what's out there," said student Nahid Bari.

"This was a big one and that happens, but not very often fortunately," Pruneau said.

Pruneau is a physics professor and director of the planetarium at Wayne State.  He says don't panic.

"Sonic booms like this happens millions of times a day, but most of the time they're so tiny that we cannot perceive them.  We cannot see them," he explained.

The professor says those that are big enough are on NASA's radar, such as the asteroid that just passed by, and they can be deflected if they're on a direct collision course with Earth.

To put this in perspective, scientists say this cosmic display we just saw in Russia really pales in comparison with what wiped out the dinosaurs.

"Dinosaurs were extinct 65 million years ago most likely because of an impact in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, but this was a major, major colossal event," said Pruneau.

An object that was probably hundreds of kilometers across that crashed to Earth generating ashes that blocked out the sun and cooled down the planet and caused mass extinction.  65 million years ago there was no way to predict that.

"The universe is a dangerous place," Pruneau said.

And a fascinating one.

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