"The pines were roaring on the heights,
The wind was moaning, in the night,
The fire was red, it flaming spread,
The trees like torches, blazed with light."
—Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold, J. R. R. Tolkien
They say the sky was torn asunder, that the great void was then filled with fire. A flame so bright, it bore a bluish hue. The thunderous booms shook the earth, the heat was nigh unbearable. Some fell to their knees, wept in the streets and looked on, as if the world had begun to end.
No, this isn’t a Biblical text, nor is it a piece from mythology or even the work of a dragon in some far off distant land, detailed in a fantasy novel. Some 111 years ago (from the time of writing this text) a strange and powerful phenomenon occurred that exposed a rather small group of individuals on this planet, to something extraordinary and utterly terrifying.
On the 30th of June, at 7:17 in the morning, 1908, people across the northern region of what is now Siberia, Russia, noticed something spectacular flying across the morning sky.
Account translated from Russian, from records of eyewitnesses of the Tunguska Event:
“The sky was cloudless, only not high above the horizon, on the same side in which the luminous body was observed, there was a noticeably small dark cloud. It was hot, dry. Approaching the ground (forest), the shiny body seemed to have blurred, but in its place a huge club of black smoke formed and an extremely strong knock (not thunder) was heard, as if from large falling stones or a cannon fire. All buildings were trembling. At the same time, an indefinite flame began to erupt from the cloud.”
“The split in the sky grew larger, and the entire northern side was covered with fire. At that moment I became so hot that I couldn’t bear it as if my shirt was on fire; from the northern side, where the fire was, came strong heat. I wanted to tear off my shirt and throw it down, but then the sky shut closed, and a strong thump sounded, and I was thrown a few metres. I lost my senses for a moment, but then my wife ran out and led me to the house.”
A column of blue light was seen, as seemingly bright as the sun. Followed by a series of resonating sonic blasts, which toppled people over inside their homes. Estimated to have registered around 5.0 on the Richter magnitude scale, far across the region, despite the fact that this was not an earthquake and there was no sign of actual impact after the phenomenon had ended. Sightings of a strange blue light in the sky were were seen across the Northern Hemisphere at the time of the event.
The general belief of what occurred on June 30th was the entry of a meteoroid into the earth’s atmosphere. Subsequently as it descended, it disintegrated entirely some 5 to 10 kilometers from the surface. The size of the meteoroid presumed to be anywhere between 50 and 190 meters in diameter. The descent of the disintegrating meteoroid caused an air burst with a force estimated to equate to a range of 10-30 megatons of energy. An estimation thousands of times more powerful than the energy released from the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, 6th of August, 1945 (.02 Mt).
This explosion of energy flattened approximately 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of forrest and was responsible for 3 human casualties. To this day, at the epicenter of the blast, near the Podkamennaya Tunguska (Подкаменная Тунгуска) river in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, trees and plant-life are scarce. There is no sign of impact, yet the earth has been scarred. Even though the meteoroid never actually collided with earth, the Tunguska event is considered the largest (human witnessed) impact recorded in history.
There are a string of theories that attempt to explain the Tunguska event, with various means of natural phenomenon. Some of which suggest large amounts of natural gas may have been involved, pooling above Tunguska before being ignited by a natural ignition source (possibly lightning) causing an explosive eruption.
Then, of course, there are more wild (and imaginative) theories. Pertaining to mysterious forces, the likes of extraterrestrial activity. Some of these theories suggest that the cosmic air burst was not a fluke phenomenon but rather the work of a highly advanced weapon. From some of the descriptions given by eyewitnesses, some believe it sounds as though something (possibly a flying craft) was being repeatedly struck during its descent, billowing black smoke, as stated in eyewitness reports.
Suggesting the blue beam was not the tail of light following the meteoroid but instead a weaponized energy source willfully destroying something as it plummeted toward our planet. Eventually, completely obliterating it before it touched the ground. Though the immense energy used to do so, made an earth shaking impact of its own.
One theory surrounding the reason for this conflict of advanced crafts is that our planet was/is under the protection of a highly advanced alien race of beings. Who watch over our simple existence in a similar fashion to the rangers watching over the realms surrounding the Shire, of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. On this particular occasion an invading force slipped through their defenses, but they managed to destroy it and obliterate its existence just in time. An intriguing idea, but very little evidence corroborates with this far-fetched theory.
Perhaps we’ll never truly know exactly what caused the Tunguska event and hopefully, we’ll never witness anything like it.
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