The February, 1947 fall of the Sikhote-Alin iron in a remote part of eastern Siberia was, by far, the largest recorded meteorite event in history. While Campo del Cielo (Argentina), Muonionalusta (Sweden), and Gibeon (Namibia) may possibly have deposited more meteorites in terms of sheer tonnage, they all took place in prehistoric times. If those events were even seen by early humans, the witnesses lived thousands of years before the advent of writing and so no records exist.
Articles in Category: Meteorites in History
In 1969, five year-old Vicki Allison was living with her American missionary parents in an old adobe home in Chihuahua, Mexico, on the eastern edge of the Sierra Madre mountains. Around 1 am on the morning of February 8, the family was awakened by a bright light and shaking. The shutters flew open and the night was illuminated by a tremendous fireball, followed by a loud boom. “It was almost like high noon,” Vicki recalls. Vicki remembers her father getting a radio or news report, of some kind, about where the impact site might be. The family piled in their van and drove 60 or 70 miles, which took several hours.
We meteorite enthusiasts are passionate about our space rocks, and also pretty much anything else related to them, especially books. It has been a while since a major new meteorite book appeared in our telescopes. The last was The Field Guide to Meteors and Meteorites by O. Richard Norton and Lawrence A. Chitwood published in 2008. The release of any work on the subject is a treat for us, and the wonderful new meteorite book The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars by Christopher Cokinos is both a joy to read and a revelation.
I stole today's title from my friend and former publisher, Dr. Joel Schiff, founder and original editor of Meteorite magazine. Every issue, he'd write a concise and thoughtful editorial under the heading "Down to Earth." I always found it so very clever, since Joel is a thoughtful and down-to-earth person and — of course — meteorites are things which fall down to earth. Despite what the church thought back in the Middle Ages.
The reasoning went something like this: Since god was supposed to have created the heavens, and since — of course — anything that god created had to be perfect, then claiming that stones could fall from the heavens suggest that the heavens were not perfect. And that just wouldn't do. The official viewpoint of the Roman Catholic Church was, therefore, that meteorites could not exist. Such logical reasoning!