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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Meteorite Mania!

19 days ago a meteorite hits a Wolcott home and splits in two.  On May 8th, another meteorite is discovered after damaging a home in another “W” town just .78 miles away. Freaked out?  But wait…there’s more. All except one of meteorites discovered in Connecticut hit in “W” towns. Weston in 1807, Wethersfield in 1971 and 1982, Wolcott and Waterbury in 2013.

The latest meteorite is about the size and shape of an avocado, weighing in at 1.6 pounds. The space rock smashed through a gutter and landed on the lawn of a Waterbury home. Although it was discovered on May 8th, the owners of the home are not sure when it crash landed.  The couple contacted the same scientist that identified the Wolcott meteorite, Dr. Stefan Nicolescu, mineralogy collections manager at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Nicolescu hard at work
Dr. Nicolescu says he diagnosed the object as a meteorite for several reasons.  For starters , the meteorite has a dark fusion crust.  This crust forms during the heated decent into the earth’s atmosphere and can be dark brown/black and is sometimes glassy.  The same heat can also cause contraction cracks formed by rapid heating (expansion) and cooling (shrinking) of the meteorite during/after landfall.  The meteorite has a high density too.  To put it simply…if you compare a meteor to a rock of similar size, the meteor will weigh more.

Here’s the coolest part though.  The meteorite contained chondrules, spherical glassy particles formed before earth from space dust fused together by heat.  Google chondrites.  If you’re a science nerd, you will not be disappointed.
The rock also contained metallic iron and was magnetic
Dr. Nicolescu says “it is highly likely the Waterbury meteorite is related to the April 19 fall in Wolcott.” But Nicolescu will conduct additional tests to confirm.

Which “W” town will get hit next?

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