Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 151: Meteorite Lands in Wisconsin!

1. Wisconsin blazed into the news last Wednesday evening on the tail of a meteorite that fell in the southwestern part of the state around 10 pm. Sadly, I was not among the hundreds who witnessed it, which would have been too cool for words.

2. The fireball and subsequent impact sparked a frenzy of 911 calls across six different states. The event was captured on numerous video cameras across the area, by amateurs and pros alike.

3. Most meteorites burn up before landing on Earth, while those that don't fall primarily into oceans (2/3 the Earth's surface) and uninhabited areas. The entry of this meteorite was shallower than most, with an expected debris field of 20 to 80 miles.

4. An estimated 500 meteorites ranging in size from marbles to basketballs reach earth’s surface annually, with only five or six recovered and made known to scientists. Very few are large enough to create craters on impact.

5. Peanut-size pieces of the meteor have been found in fields near Livingston, WI. Five pieces are on display at the UW-Madison Geology Museum through this weekend.

6. The meteorite sightings have prompted an influx of meteorite hunters from across the United States, with more expected from as far away as England over the coming weeks. Hunters are reminded that farms are private property, and permission should be asked before venturing a-field (pun intended).

7. Local scientists believe the original meteor was as big as a car, and that many more fragments could be found across southern Wisconsin. The exploding meteor unleashed as much energy as 20 tons of TNT.

8. Meteor fragments sell for as much as $10 an ounce. Fragments found in Park Forest, IL in 2003 were worth about $500,000 total. A meteor the size of a car could be worth half a million dollars. How would you like to find one of those in your backyard?

9. Meteorites in Wisconsin are quite rare, with only twelve previously documented in Wisconsin history. Shards of seven were recovered and are on display at the UW-Madison Geology Museum.

10. Wisconsin’s meteorite is turning into a teachable moment in many schools around the area. Collectors and experts alike have talked to students during the past week, with many bringing pieces form personal collections to show students.

11. From Wikipedia: A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids.

12. Skywatchers have a chance to see more meteors this week from April 16 to 25, provided skies are clear, when the Lyrid meteor shower should be visible. One could count anywhere from 10 to 20 meteors an hour. Southern states will have the best viewing opportunity. Of course, with rain predicted Friday through Sunday here, we won’t be able to see anything.

13. The Lyrids are among the oldest known meteor showers, dating back nearly 27 centuries, with records as old as 687 B.C. On April 20, 1803, in Richmond, Virginia, it was estimated that there were nearly 700 per hour. In 1922, an hourly rate of 96 was recorded.

(Please leave your link if this is your first visit!)

Janice Seagraves * Alice Audrey * Adelle Laudan * Janet
Colleen * BrendaND * Ms Menozzi * Jill Conyers
Ella Drake * Americanising Desi * Elise Logan * Kaye
CountryDew * Paige Tyler * Harriet * Inez Kelley
Sasha Devlin * Jennifer McKenzie

More Thursday Thirteen participants


Janice said...

Wouldn't you love to go for a walk and find a piece of that meteor?

Great list. I was fascinated by the news too. I didn't see if either but then I live too faraway in California to catch a glimpse.

Happy TT to another early bird poster.


Alice Audrey said...

It's amazing how many people assume a farm is at least simi-public, even when notices are posted. My grandfather had all kinds of problems with that, though mostly from the kind of hunters who carry guns.

Heather said...

Janice: Would definitely be cool to find one of those meteorites, no matter how small. One of the shards found this week was by a kid in elementary school - can you imagine how cool that must have been for him?

As for early posters...I thought mine was up really late this week (well, later than mine usually are, LOL), and am surprised how quiet it seems out there in blogland tonight - er...this morning?

Heather said...

Alice: Isn't it amazing? Thankfully, there have been few complaints about trespassers so far, and fields have not yet been plowed for planting, though it is just about that time.

Kimberly Menozzi said...

I can't imagine seeing something like that - awesome! Here's hoping that people will retain some common sense when it comes to meteor hunting though... ;)

Happy TT!

jillconyers said...

Interesting T13. My son is fascinated with meteorites.

Ella Drake said...

I had no idea of the going rate for meteors! That's a lotta cash.
I'd love to be able to see meteor showers. That's one drawback of living in or near a big city. It's difficult to see the stars.

Janet said...

that's pretty amazing!

Americanising Desi said...

i m havin information overload now!

Reel Wisdom

Adelle Laudan said...

I can't imagine how spectacular it was to see. I hope some of those farmers find a few pieces of the meteor in their fields.
Interesting list. Happy T13!

Brenda ND said...

This is so exciting. Did you go see those peanut-size pieces of the meteor? We're thinking about driving to Madison ourselves.

Elise Logan said...

I've been watching this story with interest. I am something of a physics buff, and astronomy fits in with that.

Interesting stuff.

Kaye said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll be looking!

CountryDew said...

I would love to find a meteor. That would be too cool for words. Great TT.

My TT:

Paige Tyler said...

Wow! I didn't even know about that! Interesting facts!


My TT is at

colleen said...

Now I'm curious about the difference between a meteoroid and asteroid. No one was hurt?

I am Harriet said...

I heard about a meteor shower. Couldn't see it here though.

Have a great Thursday!

Heather said...

Kimberly: Definitely a once in a lifetime event. Hopefully the bulk of meteorite hunters will be respectful of private property.

Jill: Thank you! I bet your son would love to be among the hunters searching for space gold. *g*

Ella: I had no idea meteorites were worth so much, either. Being unable to see stars and meteor showers is a great disadvantage of city life.

Janet: Isn't it? :)

Desi: Learnin' is good for you--it keeps your brain young and healthy! *grin*

Heather said...

Adelle: A couple of the fragments already found were by farmers, one by the school kid, and at least one other by a hunter walking along the road. As farmers begin to plow up fields for planting, it is expected that more pieces will be found in coming weeks.

Brenda: No, I have not been to see them; I only found about it last night while writing this up. It's supposed to rain all weekend, plus they have the Crazy Legs race uptown Saturday, so don't know if I will get up there or not.

Elise: Can't say I'm into physics, but I do find this sort of story fascinating. I wonder how long before a 2-hr special appears on one of the cable networks? lol

Kaye: Will you be looking for meteorites, the meteor showers, or both? *grin*

Heather said...

CountryDew: I think it would be cool as well. Maybe some day? :)

Paige: Seriously? It's been talked about on all the major news networks and then some. I actually first heard about it on the radio the morning after, then tuned into the evening news expressly to hear what was said about it. Video caught by a local weather cam was awesome!

Harriet: Yeah, can't see it from where I am, either. We can usually see the Pleiedes later in the summer, though.

Colleen: I believe it has mostly to do with size and composition.

Meteoroid: any of the small bodies, often remnants of comets, traveling through space: when such a body enters the earth's atmosphere it is heated to luminosity and becomes a meteor.

Asteroid: Also called minor planet. Any of the thousands of small bodies of from 480 miles (775 km) to less than one mile (1.6 km) in diameter that revolve about the sun in orbits lying mostly between those of Mars and Jupiter.

Darla M Sands said...

Cool! I love this kind of stuff.

Inez Kelley said...

*flash back of 1095 sci-fi shows where meteors caused weird abilities*

Can't help it, that is where my mind goes when I hear this stuff.

Jennifer Leeland said...

Some great information! I always miss these and wish I could see one close up. Well, not TOO close. LOL!!!

Sasha Devlin said...

How cool! I didn't even know about this. I might as well have been living in a cave this month. Thanks for the news.