Astro Bob blog: First meteorite recovered from Wisconsin fireballIt looks like southern Wisconsin's the place to be right now if you want to hunt for fresh meteorites. Pieces of meteorite from Wednesday night's amazing fireball appear to have fallen over the Livingston area between Platteville and Avoca.
By: Bob King, Duluth News Tribune
First meteorite recovered from Wisconsin fall
Christopher and Evan Boudreaux hold the first recovered meteorite from the April 14, 2010, Wisconsin fireball. The first stone was recovered 22 hours after the fall.Closeup photo below right. Credit: Terry Boudreax, submitted by Michael Farmer
Looks like southern Wisconsin's the place to be right now if you want to hunt for fresh meteorites. Pieces of meteorite from Wednesday night's amazing fireball appear to have fallen over the Livingston area between Platteville and Avoca. If it wasn't for another commitment I'd probably jump in my car this morning and head down to look for some myself. Indeed at least one piece has already been found. Just look at the two happy brothers holding one of the fragments. You can see the dark fusion crust (below) of melted rock created by friction with the air as the meteorite plunged to Earth at many thousands of miles per hour. Inside is a pale matrix of stone derived from the crust of an asteroid. Those with an up-close view of the meteorite describe it as an "H type" stony meteorite, a fairly common variety. The piece below is about an inch across. Many of us associate meteorites with heavy irons like the one the blasted out Meteor Crater in Arizona, but these are much rarer than the stony kinds.
You may have heard that this meteor is connected with a minor meteor shower called the Gamma Virginids but giant fireballs -- especially the meteorite dropping kind -- derive from a different source. Meteor showers originate from bits of dust and sand-sized grains from comets while Wisconsin's meteor was a small fragment of an asteroid from the asteroid belt. Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office estimates it was about three feet across and weighed 2,775 lbs. No doubt many more pieces remain to be found but it won't be an easy task. Farmers are planting their fields and may not take kindly to folks walking on the newly seeded ground. It's also raining in the area this morning.
Someone is already selling a rock on eBay they think might be one from the fall. It's not. Take any such offers you see right now with a grain of salt. We'll have the latest information and more photos as this story develops. In the meantime you may want to drop by a Facebook page dedicated to the Wisconsin fall. Thousands of people have already befriended the alien visitor.
A compilation of videos of the Wisconsin fireball
The moon and Venus over Duluth's hillside yesterday at dusk. Mercury's in the photo too but much fainter. Look two moon-diameters below the moon to find it. Photos: Bob King
Moving on to quieter news, did you see the beautiful crescent moon-Venus-Mercury scene last night? The sky cleared in time for great view from Duluth. I was working at the time but took a couple quick photos from the downtown area. Tonight Venus and the moon will be near one another again during evening twilight.
The moon up close this time through a 300mm telephoto lens.
Now you can see Mercury more easily directly below it.