Chelyabinsk, Zond IV, and a possible first-century fireball of historical importance
Version of Record online: 12 MAR 2015
© The Meteoritical Society, 2015.
Meteoritics & Planetary Science
Volume 50, Issue 3, pages 368–381, March 2015
How to Cite
Hartmann, W. K. (2015), Chelyabinsk, Zond IV, and a possible first-century fireball of historical importance. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 50: 368–381. doi: 10.1111/maps.12428
- Issue online: 19 MAR 2015
- Version of Record online: 12 MAR 2015
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 DEC 2014
- Manuscript Received: 7 OCT 2014
The well-recorded Chelyabinsk event, the Tunguska event, and the re-entry of the Zond IV vehicle offer opportunities to compare reactions of modern eyewitnesses to eyewitness accounts of possible ancient fireball events. The first-century book, Acts of the Apostles, gives three separate descriptions of a bright light “from heaven,” which occurred probably in the 30s (C.E.) near Damascus, Syria. The details offer a strikingly good match to a Chelyabinsk-class or Tunguska-class fireball. Among the most impressive, unexpected consistencies with modern knowledge is the first-century description of symptoms of temporary blindness caused by exposure to intense radiation, matching a condition now known as photokeratitis. An analysis of the re-entry of debris from the Russian Zond IV over the eastern United States in 1968 shows how actual perceived phenomena in an unfamiliar natural celestial apparition are often conceived by the observer in terms of current cultural conceptions, and it is suggested that this happened also in the first-century case.