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An asteroid turned into a blazing fireball over Africa last weekend

Artist’s concept of a near-Earth object. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An asteroid turned into a blazing fireball as it disintegrated in south Africa last weekend, a few hours after it was first spotted.

The boulder-size asteroid was discovered on Saturday morning, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies. Dubbed 2018 LA, the asteroid was estimated to be approximately 6 metres wide, which is small enough to safely disintegrate in the atmosphere of the Earth.

2018 LA was first discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona., that is funded by NASA and is operated by the University of Arizona.

METEORITE HUNTERS FIND THE FIRST PIECES OF THE MICHIGAN FIREBALL

“Reports of a bright fireball over Botswana, Africa, in the beginning of the Saturday evening match with the predicted trajectory for the asteroid,” said NASA in a statement. Traveling at 38,000 mph, the asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere at 6:44 pm, local Botswana time (12:44 pm EDT).

These are the discovery of the observations of the asteroid in 2018 LA of the Catalina Sky Survey, held on June 2, 2018. About eight hours after these photos were taken, the asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere (approximately 12:44 pm EDT, 6:44 pm, local Botswana time), and disintegrated in the upper layers of the atmosphere in the vicinity of Pula, in Africa. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CSS-Univ. of Arizona)

The space rock disintegrated several miles above the earth’s surface. Videos posted on YouTube allegedly show the fireball streaks across the night sky, including a set on a South African farm security camera.

The object was, however, much smaller than the meteor – estimated to be about 56 yards wide, which exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, injuring more than 1,000 people.

METEORITE HUNTERS, SCIENTISTS SET TO SCOUR ANTARCTICA FOR RARE SPACE ROCKS

A small piece of an asteroid or comet is also known as a meteor. When it is in the atmosphere of the Earth, is it a meteor or a fireball or shooting star. The pieces of rock that hit the ground, valuable to collectors, are the meteorites.

Earlier this year, a meteor made headlines when it flashed through the air in Michigan. The burning fireball sent meteorite hunters scrambling to find fragments of the rare space rock.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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