artistic interpretation

Where is the meteorite that came down on Friday?

The Mira Observatory reports that chances are high that a meteorite impacted on earth in Belgium last week.  Nearly 200 people across Belgium, the Netherlands, England and France reported seeing an object falling from the sky.  But will we be able to find it?

Hundreds of people reported observing a particularly bright ball of fire in the skies that could be a meteorite.  Reports came from western Belgium, northern France, the south of the Netherlands and south eastern England.  “The locations that these observations were made as well as observations by the Fireball Recovery and Interplanetary Observation Network in Brussels, Oostkapelle and Noordwijk (both in the Netherlands) allow an area between Aalst and Dendermonde to be identified as the possible landing site” says Philippe Mollet of the Mira Observatory.

The pictures made by three special cameras allowed scientists to demarcate a specific area between the towns of Aalst and Dendermonde (East Flanders) where the meteorite may have come down.

However, the chance that anything will be found is particularly low says Philippe Mollet.  Geologist Steven Goderis of the Brussels Free University VUB did make a search, but came back empty handed. “Snow hampered the search” says Steven Goderis, who will be setting out with students again today for a systematic search.

So what does a meteorite look like?  It consists of space debris in an uneven form with a diameter of only a couple of centimetres and looks like a stone. Officially, over the past two centuries only 5 meteorites were found in Belgium.  “The last time this occurred was way back in 1971” says Philippe Mollet. It was when a meteorite crashed through the roof of a barn.

A meteorite being recovered is rare, but several meteorites come down in Belgium each year.  “During daytime a meteorite falling from the heavens can’t be noticed.  All finds so far were due to chance.  If anything is found now it will be the first time that this happens on the basis of systematic observations and camera technology” says Philippe Mollet.

“Chances anything will be found are low, more or less negligible.  We’re probably talking about several particles as the meteorite will probably have broken up.  If you go looking, look out for a black stone, a little larger than an ordinary stone, with an uneven surface that lost bits on its journey down to earth”.


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