Tuesday1 June 20042:27pm MDT2004-06-01 UTC 2027 back top next  

The Asteroid/Comet Connection's
daily news journal about
asteroids, comets, and meteors


Today's issue status: done
yesterdayJunetomorrowIndex

Cover: Comet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) as imaged May 7th with the WIYN 0.9m telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona using R, G, and B filters. Here the image is flipped to put north up, while east is left. See a National Optical Astronomy Observatory May 25th news release for more info and larger images at various resolutions. Credit: T. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Z. Levay, L.Frattare (Space Telescope Science Institute) ,and WIYN/NOAO/AURA/NSF.

When meteorites aren't – panel 1/1 Major News for 1 June 2004 back top next  
When meteorites aren’t

By Marco Langbroek

About A/CC's mention last Friday of an "apparently uncorroborated report" of an English teenager being hit by a small meteorite in August 2002, it is apparent from the BBC photo, and even more apparent from a more detailed Ananova photo, that this was not a meteorite. I am 100% certain this is a piece of iron smelting slag, which can be found all over the countryside. It is the refuse of former iron smelting activities, some even dating back to medieval times.

Apart from the object's visual appearance, a number of items in the BBC story do not ring true. First was that it "looked rusty." A fresh meteorite would not be rusty. Second, that it was "quite hot." Meteorites, and certainly such small ones, are not hot when they reach Earth's surface. And third, if this was, as reported, a direct hit, a true meteorite would have broken foot bones. It would be similar to stopping a bullet with your foot.

Note also that there was no media follow-up

reporting authentication, and no classification has been published in the Meteoritical Bulletin.

I personally investigated some similar stories where the fallen object certainly was not a meteorite. There are several possibilities as to how a terrestrial rock can apparently fall from the sky:

  1. Some birds carry, and drop, stones and other objects.
  2. Naughty little urchins throwing stones.
  3. Naughty little urchins with catapults.
  4. Stones dropping from the undercarriage of airplanes.

This last can do damage. In a case I investigated some years ago, a little girl received a glancing blow from a piece of runway asphalt. Although it just grazed her forehead, she needed stitches. One more inch and it could have been fatal.

Marco Langbroek is a professional archaeologist and an amateur meteor astronomer active with the Dutch Meteor Society. He is published on topics as diverse as Neanderthals and comet dust trails. See A/CC news last Thursday and the news Index for more of his writing.

News briefs – panel 1/1 Major News for 1 June 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Meteor news:  The Richmond, Virginia Times-Dispatch reports today about progress in drilling into the Chesapeake Bay impact structure (news thread). It says researchers will look for Helium-4 to determine the age of trapped water and for Helium-3, "which is rare on Earth but abundant in asteroids (less so in icy comets)." This article has been picked up as a slightly different Associated Press wire story, appearing in many places such as Space.com today.

The Dodge City, Kansas Daily Globe tells today about using iron objects made from meteorites during 50 BC to 500 AD to help trace the North American Hopewell culture's area of influence and trade routes. They "obtained meteorites from southwestern Kansas," and "Iron from two sites in Ohio has been identified as coming from the Brenham meteorite."

Sandia National Lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico has posted a bright meteor movie from 10:19pm Sunday night MDT (421Kb), a brief unmoving flash.

Bits & pieces:  The Spacewatch FMO Project site has updated to show that online volunteer Anton Marais, who discovered one of only seven NEOs announced in the week ending Sunday (see report), is located in South Africa.

The Spitzer Science Center has posted a list dated May 28th of "Cycle-1 General Observer and Archival Research Programs," which include a number of projects involving minor object science.

Risk monitoring - panel 1/1 Major News for 1 June 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 1 June

(There was nothing to report today about risk monitoring.)

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2015 UTC, 1 Jun

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2004 KE17 NEODyS 5/312080-20801-6.08-6.0801.985
JPL 5/312080-20801-5.79-5.7901.985
VI = count of "virtual impactors" (impact solutions)
See A/CC's Consolidated Risk Tables for more and maybe
  newer details, and check the monitors' links for latest info.
Note that only objects recently in view are shown here.
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