Meteorites

Sterlitamak

May's Meteorite of the Month is Sterlitamak, a IIIAB iron meteorite that fell late on the night of May 17, 1990, in Russia.

SterlitamakPhoto: ASU/CMS/Garvie.
 
 
 
Many witnesses in South Bashkiria saw a very bright fireball (up to -5 magnitude) moving from south to north at a ~45 degree angle to the horizon. Witnesses located ~2 km from the crater observed the fireball glowing right up to the time of impact, after which several explosions were heard. The crater was found on May 19.
 
To date, 325 kg of material have been recovered from the crater, the largest piece from a depth of 12 m (39.4 ft).

 Sterlitamak crater

Photo: Archival.

Bovedy

April's Meteorite of the Month is Bovedy, an (L3) ordinary chondrite that fell in Northern Ireland the night of April 25, 1969, near Belfast. The Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 46) describes the fall:
"The fireball was seen all the way from Sussex through London, Doncaster and Yorkshire to Northern Ireland toward Belfast. It was moving from ESE to W NW very rapidly. There was a swishing noise and people reported explosions. The largest fragment of the meteorite weighing 7,400 g was found near the village of Filrea, Londonderry County."
 
What makes Bovedy unique, is that its arrival was the first ever captured on audio recording. According to a paper published shortly after the event [E.J. Opik (1970) The Sonic Boom of the Boveedy Meteorite. Irish Astronomical Journal, 9(8), p. 308]:
"Miss Eileen M. Brown, of Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, an employee of the Telephone Exchange in Belfast, in pursuit of her hobby of recording bird songs was on that evening exposing as usual her tape recorder in the garden with the idyllic evening calls of the birds were suddenly interrupted by thunder.  She thought, indeed, that it was thunder albeit from a clear sky. Yet her father's dog thought differently – instead of panicking and seeking refuge at his master's feet as in the case of real thunder, he did not show any signs of alarm. So father concluded that it was not thunder, and indeed he and his dog were right." 
 
Opik goes on to describe the audio recording:
"On the tape, among bird voices of the April evening, there occurs at first interference by a car passing the street in front of the garden, but this vanishes at the right time to give again prominence to the birds.  Then suddenly are heard the "gunfire" reports of the meteorite, three strong sharp detonations within less than half-a-second interval, followed by weaker ones during a few seconds.  Some five seconds after the "thunder" there followed barking of dogs"
 
Listen to the recording below, and read more about the Bovedy meteorite fall here, and here!
 
 
The Ulster Museum posted this photo on the occasion of the anniversary of the Bovedy meteorite:
Bovedy meteorite

Bishopville

March's meteorite of the month is Bishopville, an aubrite that fell in Sumter County, South Carolina, on March 25, 1843.  According to Nininger (Meteoritics vol 19):

Its meteor and the explosion which accompanied the fall were witnessed over an area 30 to 40 miles in diameter. One six-kilogram stone was seen to strike the Earth and recovered from a depth of about three feet in the soft soil.

BishopvilleImage copyright ASU/CMS.

Vigarano

February's Meteorite of the Month is Vigarano, a (CV3) carbonaceous chondrite that fell the evening of January 22, 1910, near Ferrara, Italy.  Vigarano is the type specimen for the CV group meteorites which are, according to The Meteoritical Society, "distinguished by large (mm-sized) chondrules, many of which are surrounded by igneous rims, large refractory inclusions and abundant matrix (40 vol%); CV chondrites may be divided into oxidized and reduced subgroups."

In a 2010 magazine article, Dr. Enrico Trevisani (Conservator of Earth Sciences, Museo di Storia Naturale di Ferrara, Italy) references an eyewitness account of the meteorite's fall, written by municipal secretary of Vigarano Mainarda, Ugo Martini:
"On the night of 22 January 1910, at 21:30, the Bovini family, who live in the Saracca farm house, owned by Mr. Michele Cariani in Vigarano Pieve, a hamlet in the Municipality of Vigarano Mainarda (Ferrara), was awakened by a strong explosion that was like a mortar explosion. The night was stormy, it was snowing, and a few women were spinning in the kitchen. The ladies claim that they saw a streak of lightening at the same time as the explosion. They got scared, and called the men who were sleeping. The men explored the outside of the house with lanterns. They saw something three metres south east of the house, on the ground lightly covered with snow, and immediately confirmed that the hole had been made recently. Naturally they sank a shovel into the hole, and hit a solid, cold body, which they took out".

The history of the Vigarano meteorite is particularly interesting.  While 16 kg of material were recovered in 1910 (the first mass immediately after impact, and the second the following month), research undertaken by Dr. Trevisani in recent years, has unearthed an additional 6.9 kg in a private collection, as well as a plethora of Vigarano imposters.  Some of these imposters were even identified in museum collections! 

Vigarano post card

The meteorite's fall was widely publicized, and the main mass was featured on a tourism postcard in 1911.

Learn about the history of the Vigarano meteorite and see photos here!

Read about ASU Center for Meteorite Studies research on Vigarano here!

Oued Bourdim 001

January's Meteorite of the Month is Oued Bourdim 001, a pallasite (PES) found in Morocco in 2014.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 104):

In November, 2007, Brahim Oubadi from Bouanane, Morocco, was searching for meteorites on the Oued Bourdim wadi. He found many small pieces of a heavy rock (for its size) that looked different from the surrounding materials. Over the next few years, Mr. Oubadi found approximately 400 g. He sold the stones to a meteorite dealer in Boudnib, and they were subsequently sold at the Tucson Gem and Mineral show where they were nicknamed "Boudnib".

This photograph shows an area of metal in Oued Bourdim 001 stain-etched with sodium bisulfite. The kamacite is stained a kaleidoscope of colors. Tetrataenite/taenite is bright and shiny and the fine-grained plessite is dark. Photo ⓒ ASU/CMS/Garvie.

OuedBourdim001

Benguerir

November’s meteorite of the month is Benguerir, an (LL6) ordinary chondrite that fell in Morocco in 2004.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 89):
A meteorite shower was witnessed to fall near Benguerir (~50 km due north of Marrakesh, Morocco) by local people on 2004 November 22nd at ~11:45 GMT. The fall had an east-to-west trajectory. The estimated total recovered mass is ~25-30 kg. Three stones fell at the following localities: Douar Lfokra, Ahl Fouim Sakhra Lourania and Douar Tnaja. Two additional stones were also found further west, near Si Abdellah and Tnine Bouchane. A stone weighing ~4 kg, possibly recovered at Douar Tnaja, shows dull black fusion crust and regmaglypts on one side, and it is presently held at the office of the Govenor of the Kelaa Sraghna Province. Another stone weighing ~1.2 kg, possibly from Douar Lfokra, is kept in the laboratory of the Gendarmerie Royale.

To date, 25 kg of the Benguerir meteorite have been recovered.

Benguerir Meteorite

Apt

October’s meteorite of the month is Apt, an (L6) ordinary chondrite that fell October 8, 1803, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southeastern France.

A report of the fall was recorded in “Der neueste Meteorstein”, published in the Annalen der Physik in 1804 (16(1), p. 72). According  to this report, on a slightly overcast morning, a very loud crash was heard in the town of Apt at approximately 10:30 AM.  A local married couple by a nearby vineyard were startled by a sound described as ringing or hissing, and the woman looked up to see a black stone fall into the vineyard.  As the sound had been noticed by several other people, news of the stone’s fall spread quickly throughout the area and a search was undertaken. 

The 3.2 kg (~7 lb) stone was found 2 days later,  embedded in a 10” deep hole not far from a residential home, and sent to the Paris.  It was quickly identified as a meteorite and accessioned into the collection of the Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle

Apt Meteorite

Sericho

Sericho is a pallasite found in Kenya in 2016.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 106, in prep):

In 2016, two brothers were searching for their camels and came across several large, dense stones west of the village of Habaswein and south of Sericho, Kenya. There are no rocks in this area, so they decided they were meteorites. They spent several weeks collecting them with engine hoists and moving them to their homes in Habaswein. Though recognized as meteorites in 2016, the masses had been known to camel-herders for decades. One village elder said that as a child, he and his brothers would play on top of the stones. 

Sericho recovery NFD DispatchPhoto: NFD Dispatch (13 June, 2017).

Over 2800 kg of the Sericho meteorite have been recovered to date.

 

Noblesville

Noblesville is an ordinary (H4-6) chondrite that fell in Indiana, the evening of August 1st, 1991.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 72):

"The stone passed two witnesses, Brodie Spaulding and Brian Kinzie, who observed it land 3.56 m in front of them on the lawn in front of a house. No light or sound except for the whirring sound as it passed and the thud in the ground was noticed. It is an oriented specimen with well-developed flight markings, weight 483.7 g."

Noblesville meteorite fallPhoto credit: NASA's Exploring Meteorite Mysteries.