Fireball Over Thailand Sparks 'Asteroid Apocalypse' Theories

Don't run for the hills ... just yet.

It only lasted a few seconds, but on Monday around 8:00 a.m., eyewitnesses at many locations in and around Bangkok, Thailand, saw a flaming object hurtling toward Earth (see image above).

Onlookers in cars and motor scooters watched and, using cell phone cameras and dashcams, videotaped the fireball explode and disintegrate in the air just before it would have crashed to the ground.

The following compilation video shows the celestial object streaking through the Thailand sky:

The Sydney Morning Herald reported how some people believed it was a pending "asteroid apocalypse, predicted by conspiracy theorists."

Others suggested it was "part of a satellite, a crippled aircraft or even a UFO," according to the Herald.

But an official at Thailand's Astronomical Society announced the exploding object was a rare bolide -- an exploding meteor. 

"This is a natural, normal phenomenon because small meteors fall to Earth every day, but what we saw was similar to one over Chelyabinsk in Russia two years ago," said Astronomical Society president Prapee Wiraporn.

In that incident, a meteor streaked through Earth's atmosphere over Russia's Ural Mountains and exploded with a huge force that shattered windows, damaged buildings and injured many people.

Luckily, that was not the case in Thailand on Monday. 

Nevertheless, the meteor caused a bit of panic in Nakhon Ratchasima, northeast of Bangkok where, according to the Khaosod English news site, "Local authorities mistook it for a plane crash and dispatched more than 100 rescue workers and firefighters to search for the wreckage." 

Since the airborne explosion seemed to disintegrate the incoming object, no debris was found and the search was called off a few hours later.

And in case you're concerned and would like to know if our home planet is still a viable target for a roving asteroid, NASA says not to worry.

"There is no scientific basis -- not one shred of evidence -- that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth [anytime soon]," Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object office, said in an official statement last month. 

Wonders Of Astronomy