Was this a meteorite?
By NIGEL ADLAM
November 24, 2004
Territory scientists were last night studying what could be the first photograph of a meteorite hitting Earth.
The chances of an impact being captured on film are millions to one.
``If this is true, it's one of the most remarkable pictures ever taken,'' astronomy tutor Geoff Carr said yesterday.
The photograph was taken by keen amateur photographer Wayne Pryde as he stood near the Darwin Cenotaph on The Esplanade and looked down to Fort Hill Wharf on Monday evening.
The meteorite, which could have been as small as a grain of sand, would have been travelling about 30,000km/h.
Mr Pryde believes a tiny piece of space rock hit the top of a 20m lamp post on the wharf.
He said the explosion on impact could be seen clearly in the photograph.
The ``tube'' created by the meteorite as it hurtled towards Earth is harder to pick out.
``I was taking a series of time-lapse pictures of the build-up of clouds,'' Mr Pryde said. ``I did not realise I had snapped the meteorite until later.''
The wharf lamp bulb was yesterday found to be blown but the top of the post will not be checked for damage until today.
Experts believe the meteorite may not have hit the lamp post, but metal elsewhere on the wharf.
Mr Pryde, 31, is an IT expert but he denied the photograph had been digitally altered.
Photographic experts also said the shot had not been doctored.
Mr Carr, who teaches at Charles Darwin University, said the picture would create interest among astronomers worldwide.
He said most of the thousands of meteors heading towards Earth burnt up before landing.
``Nobody has ever photographed one hitting Earth,'' he said.
Mr Carr said the explosion could have been caused by lightning.
``But I doubt this very much _ the trajectory is too straight,'' he said.