Meteorites Fround From Last Friday’s Texan Daylight Fireball
February 20, 2009 1 Comment
For an earlier post on this fireball/meteorite see: “Feb 15 Texas Daylight Fireball“
Thanks to eyewitness reports, a few great videos and some amazing weather radar images, two groups of meteorite researchers and collectors have been able to find multiple meteorites from last Friday’s daylight fireball over Texas. So far the meteorites have been found in an area near the small towns of West and Denton, Texas about 50 miles south of Dallas/Fort Worth.
Thanks to Eman for posting this update to the comment section.
“I want to confirm that several meteorites have now been recovered from this event in the vicinity of Denton, TX and the Central Texas Town of “West. TX”. Initial estimates are a strewn field a mile wide and 6-7 miles long. No major masses have been reported thus far. 20-40 stones so far, most are egg and thumbnail sized.”
The meteorites have been found by two groups. One group is being led by Ron DiIulio, director of the planetarium and astronomy lab program at the University of North Texas, and Preston Starr, the observatory manager at UNT. Local news stories describing their finds can be seen here and here.
Some of the meteorites found by the UNT team will be on display at the UNT Elm Fork Education Center on March 7. This exhibit is part of their Family Fun Science Event. There is an admission charge of $8 per child though two adults are allowed to enter for free with each child. More on this event can be found here.
The second group of meteorite finders is led by Michael Farmer, a Tucson-based meteorite collector and dealer. There is a nice video of Michael and his team discussing the hunt for this and other meteorites. According to Michael there are many other groups scouring the ground for meteorites and that number will probably only increase.
The large number of meteorites being found does not mean multiple meteoroids or small asteroids produced the fireball. The meteorites are caused by a single asteroid which broke into many pieces as it experienced the intense pressure and heat of passage through the Earth’s atmosphere at many miles per second. It is very possible that there are hundreds to thousands of small meteorites spread over an area on the order of ~100 square miles. Meteorites are named after the closest geographic feature to where they are found. It will be interesting to see what this meteorite will be called.