Rare meteorite near miss

A Whakamarama man has geologists excited after a meteorite soared into his garage moving buckets and narrowly missing his head.

The man, who does not wish to be named, was in his garage talking with his neighbour last Monday when a meteorite soared past his head.

Whakamarama geologist Andrew Hollis holds up the meteorite which hit the Whakamarama home on May 6. Photos and video by Zoe Hunter.

Andrew says the meteorite is the size of a pea.

“It must have missed me by a couple of feet. I thought it was a gun shot.”

He didn’t hear or see the meteorite, but noticed the buckets were moving in the garage. Together with his friend the pair began searching.

 “It’s about the size of a fly. I reckon there’s probably more in the garage,” he says.

After waiting about a week, the man decided to show geologist Andrew Hollis.

Andrew, a geologist for around 20 years, says at first, he didn’t think it was a meteorite due to the rarity of the event, but a closer look confirmed it is.

“They’re mostly magnetic and really dense. But it certainly looks as if it’s been subjected to heat.

“Things like this are pretty rare, certainly in the day and in New Zealand. Having a meteorite land near people is quite rare.”

Andrew says it is likely the meteorite came from Halley’s Comet – a comet that returns to Earth about every 75 years.

He says there was a good chance a meteor shower called ‘Eta Aquarid’ hit Earth during May 5-9. The meteorite which hit the Whakamarama home happened on May 6.

“That is said to be coming from a debris trail left by Halley’s Comet about 2000 years ago and if that’s the case then it’s likely to have come from Halley’s Comet, that’s come on the 6th of May.”

The last time Halley’s Comet was here was in 1986.

Andrew says the dangers of meteorite hitting the earth depend on their size.

“These ones are really common. We’ve got meteors and asteroids going past us pretty frequently and anything larger than perhaps 100 metre in diameter is going cause a catastrophe wherever it lands.”

He says the most dangerous is the ‘Apophis’ asteroid which is expected to hit earth in 2029.

“The most dangerous one that we know of at the moment is an asteroid called Apophis which is going to come close to us in 2029 and then again in 2036. It’s assumed that it won’t hit us but it’s certainly going to come close enough that it’s going to cause a lot of concern.”




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2 Comments

Or...

Posted on 20-05-2013 17:03 | By Lauren Tomsett

Or...someone threw a stone.

Tsunami sirens could have dual purpose

Posted on 18-05-2013 11:43 | By Annalist

Now that the potential danger of meteorite showers has become apparent, there is even more reason for Council to get its tsunami sirens in place and extend them all over the city and rural region to also warn of incoming celestial objects. School children should discard those sun hats they wear outside in preference to helmets which will not only protect from the sun but also from unexpected meteoric debris. It would be good idea for adults too.

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