Possible Meteorites Have Been Found In Alabama
8:30PM UPDATE: Dr. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center:
Update on our visitor from the asteroid belt:
1) Eyewitness reports put the meteor in the same area as the doppler echo – good confirmation. Check out the clump of lines in the map NW of Cullman (along with the eyewitness accounts) at this link: http://www.amsmeteors.org/fireball_event/2012/1681
The American Meteor Society did a great job analyzing these reports!
2) The fireball (meteor) traveled from South to North (more SSE to NNW).
3) I sent a search team down to the area indicated by the doppler signature. They spent several hours searching along the roads and other spots where meteorites would be relatively easy to spot. Nothing they saw screamed “meteorite”, but they did bring a few specimens back for a closer look. We are meeting around 8:30 AM tomorrow, and I will probably send another group down on Friday after we have had a few hours to think about how to improve the search.
4) There have been six recorded meteorite falls in Alabama – they are:
Danville – November 27, 1868
Frankfort – December 5, 1868
Felix – May 15, 1900
Leighton – January 12, 1907
Athens – July 11, 1933
Sylacauga – November 30, 1954
If a piece of this meteor is found, we will have a seventh fall. BTW, meteorites are named after the closest town/city to their fall location. So the Athens meteorite fell in or near Athens, and so forth.
An update to a story that we have been continuing to follow after a fireball streaked across the early evening sky of north, central Alabama Tuesday. A team from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center scoured an area south of Huntsville and northwest of Cullman looking for meteorites. According to Dr. Cooke of NASA, the team has some samples, but further analysis is needed to determine if they are actual meteorites.
NASA has a specific area where they are looking for meteorites, but is not announcing it to the public at this time. The fireball streaked across the Alabama sky yesterday 30 minutes before meteor cameras at ALAMO (Automated Lunar And Meteor Observatory) at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center turned on. Though radars in Birmingham, Atlanta, Nashville and Atlantic picked up on a “meteoritic shower” which is rock and dust being picked up on radar. Below is an image from Birmingham radar showing faint radar echoes that could be from the dust and rocks from the fireball.
From the location of the meteoritic shower and analysis from other radar data, it looks like there are likely meteorites on the ground in Alabama, they are probably somewhere in southeastern Lawrence County, which is where Bankhead National Forrest is located. There are not many roads in that region, so it will be very hard to find any meteorites. There may also be possible meteors in southwestern Morgan County, extreme northeastern Winston and northwest Cullman counties.
If scientists find meteorites in Alabama, which according to Dr. Cooke could be as big as pebbles or rocks, it will be the first time that meteorites have been found in Alabama since November 30th of 1954, when the first confirmed report of a meteor ever striking a person occurred in Sylacauga, AL in Talladega County.
- Jennifer Watson
Facebook: Jennifer Watson WHNT