Monday, April 19, 2010

Catch a Fallin’ Star

There was a meteor shower last week that was visible in Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and other parts of the Midwest and, instead of seeing shooting stars, people saw balls of fire in the sky. The people in Wisconsin got a lot of national news from this, but people here in St. Louis saw it too.

"Directly in front of me I saw something fall from the sky, and it looked like it was fiery," said Kathryn Woodcock, a Maryville University student. "I called my mom to ask if it was a comet or meteorite, she said probably a meteorite."

"It was strange," said Margie Selle, of Florissant. "It was a like a green ball falling from the sky. It wasn't real fast. You know how a falling star falls, like boom, boom, then, it is gone."

I missed it. Which is a bummer, I’d like to see a meteorite. Up in Minnesota, where I vacation each year, we always look for shooting stars and a long time resident always claimed that a meteor fell to earth on his property. He’s long dead but if you know where to look you can see the big rock that he claimed was from a meteor. It seems unlikely. Anything that big that survived entry through the atmosphere probably would have created a crater. Maybe wiped out the dinosaurs.

I wish I had seen the show here in St. Louis. A police camera in Iowa caught one on film and it looks amazing:

According to the Science Center here, people go out searching for what is left of these meteors that fall to earth. Via Bad Astronomy, I learned that a piece of the Wisconsin meteor was found. Here was a photo they used to show the size and scale:

image

As he says:

It certainly looks like a meteorite … the outer blackened fusion crust is from passing through the air, and the interior has the gray, grainy structure in common chondrites. The cube is one centimeter in size and is used in photos like this to give scale.

And here is video of a man who hunts for pieces and found a piece of that meteor:

It certainly looks smaller than The Meteorite we picnic next to in Minnesota.