[meteorite-list] Teenager Hit by 'Meteorite' Seeks Expert Opinion

Ron Baalke baalke at zagami.jpl.nasa.gov
Tue Aug 27 12:41:41 EDT 2002


Teenager Hit by 'Meteorite' Seeks Expert Opinion 
By Lia Hervey, PA News 
August 27, 2002

A teenager today told how she was struck by a possible meteorite 
as she was waiting outside her family home.

Siobhan Cowton from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, was about to 
get into her family car at 10.30am on Thursday last week when 
something fell out of the sky and hit her on her foot.

At first the 14-year-old thought the odd looking stone had been 
thrown at her by a child, but then she looked closer and realised 
it was not your average garden gravel.

"I looked at it again and it had a black and grey colour with a 
shiny bubble surface," she said.

The stone also felt hot as the teenager picked it up.

After closer inspection by her father Niel, and comparison with 
pictures on the Internet, Siobhan has decided to get the stone 
checked by scientists and plans to take it to Durham University.

If it is a piece of rock from outer space, Siobhan says she will 
consider putting it up for auction.

On the other hand, she might keep it.

"If it isn't worth anything then I suppose I will keep it myself 
for sentimental value. It is not every day that you are hit by
a meteorite," she said.


When meteorites aren't

By Marco Langbroek

About A/CC's mention last Friday of an "apparently 
uncorroborated report" of an English teenager being
 hit by a small meteorite in August 2002, it is 
apparent from the BBC photo, and even more 
apparent from a more detailed Ananova photo, 
that this was not a meteorite. I am 100% certain 
this is a piece of iron smelting slag, which can 
be found all over the countryside. It is the refuse
 of former iron smelting activities, some even 
dating back to medieval times.

Apart from the object's visual appearance, a 
number of items in the BBC story do not ring
 true. First was that it "looked rusty." A fresh 
meteorite would not be rusty. Second, that it 
was "quite hot." Meteorites, and certainly such
 small ones, are not hot when they reach Earth's
 surface. And third, if this was, as reported, 
a direct hit, a true meteorite would have broken
 foot bones. It would be similar to stopping a 
bullet with your foot.

Note also that there was no media follow-up 
reporting authentication, and no classification
has been published in the Meteoritical Bulletin.

I personally investigated some similar stories
 where the fallen object certainly was not a
 meteorite. There are several possibilities as
 to how a terrestrial rock can apparently fall from the sky:

   1. Some birds carry, and drop, stones and other objects.
   2. Naughty little urchins throwing stones.
   3. Naughty little urchins with catapults.
   4. Stones dropping from the undercarriage of airplanes. 

This last can do damage. In a case I investigated
 some years ago, a little girl received a glancing
 blow from a piece of runway asphalt. Although it
 just grazed her forehead, she needed stitches. 
One more inch and it could have been fatal.

Marco Langbroek is a professional archaeologist
 and an amateur meteor astronomer active with 
the Dutch Meteor Society. He is published on topics
 as diverse as Neanderthals and comet dust trails. 
See A/CC news last Thursday and the news Index 
for more of his writing. 


SEE: Fourth-grader finds meteorite in yard

SEE: Boy Sees Meteorite Land In Backyard

SEE Burnin' Desire