(meteorobs) More adventures

stange stange34 at sbcglobal.net
Tue Dec 2 02:54:43 EST 2008

An exciting story. Thankyou.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bruce McCurdy" <bmccurdy at telusplanet.net>
To: "Global Meteor Observing Forum" <meteorobs at meteorobs.org>
Cc: <rascals at lists.rasc.ca>; "Astronomy Discussion list" 
<astro at mailman.srv.ualberta.ca>
Sent: 2008/12/01 23:04
Subject: (meteorobs) More adventures

>    It's been an exciting and tiring couple of days since last I wrote my 
> first report Friday night from the Marsden Hotel in rural Saskatchewan. 
> I'm now home safe and sound after two expeditions into the field to hunt 
> for meteorites.
>    On Saturday morning Frank Florian and I continued our expedition as 
> representatives of the Telus World of Science - Edmonton. We prowled the 
> area by car, getting out to explore a few small ponds and examine various 
> suspect rocks by the side of the road and in the ditches. Eventually we 
> approached the farm where the original finds had been made. The farmer, 
> Ian Mitchell, was hanging out at the entrance restricting access to just 
> Dr. Hildebrand and his research crew from University of Calgary. He had 
> met us the previous day during the media scrums when Frank had interviewed 
> him on camera for a planned exhibit at TWoSE's Space Place gallery, and I 
> had passed him an RASC IYA2009 calendar in recognition of his good will 
> towards the scientific community. Our own good will was repaid 
> immediately, as rather than turn us away Ian said he realized we were 
> serious in our pursuit, and directed us towards a remote group of beaver 
> ponds in a corner of his property well away from other searchers.
>    We headed in that direction, took a wrong turn and spent quite a little 
> time on dry land exploring a cart path and a stubble field, still without 
> success. There were many "meteor-wrongs" including terrestrial rocks, 
> clods of dirt, vegetative matter such as wood chips, and animal droppings. 
> With all my experience observing meteors I reassured Frank that we needed 
> to persist, and that our patience would be rewarded. I added hopefully, 
> "We need a little one for you, a little one for me, and a big one for the 
> science centre!" Little did I know that was exactly how things would 
> unfold.
>    Eventually we scrambled and slid down a steep and slippery embankment 
> into the coulee where we located the beaver ponds. A preliminary scan 
> turned up nothing, but on our second trip to the biggest pond Frank found 
> a meteorite roughly 2-3 cm in all dimensions embedded in the ice. A  few 
> minutes later I found one of the same size -- what a thrill that was! A 
> little while later I came across a somewhat larger specimen maybe twice as 
> large that we had to chip free of the ice. Finally Frank found a very 
> small meteorite of about 1 cubic cm.
>    We were running out of light so scrambled back up the embankment with 
> our finds safely wrapped and stored. We returned to Ian Mitchell, who 
> recorded our finds for Dr. Hildebrand but as I had hoped, told us to keep 
> the meteorites we had found. We promised to bring them first to Dr. Chris 
> Herd at the University of Alberta (Frank delivered them today), and once 
> Chris is done with them, to use them for display purposes at the science 
> centre. I am hopeful but not assured of getting "my" first, smaller 
> fragment to use in conjunction with school and public talks. I expect I'll 
> be speaking frequently of the Lone Rock meteorites during IYA!
>    Tired and happy from our successful expedition, Frank and I returned to 
> Edmonton late Saturday, our meteorites, images, and memories safely in 
> tow. But at 6 the next morning, I was right back on the road, this time 
> accompanying Edmonton RASCals Alister Ling and Franklin Loehde who were 
> keen to do their own search. Even though I no longer had the "in" of 
> officially representing the science centre I thought my local knowledge of 
> the people and the area might be of use.
>    Alas, our ~six-hour search turned up nary a meteorite among the three 
> of us. We explored the train tracks and some small ponds on public land 
> which may have already been picked over or else they were outside the fall 
> zone. As chance had it at mid-day we encountered Les Johnson and family; 
> the discoverers of the large 13 kg meteorite had decided to return it to 
> the land owner, Al Mitchell (brother of Ian). Les took us to the exact 
> point where he had discovered the monster, and there was a ~10 cm deep 
> indentation on the ground in which the meteorite fit perfectly. Les said 
> he had actually found it just beside the hole; it had hit and bounced out. 
> As it happened Al Mitchell was still in the area, as was Dr. Alan 
> Hildebrand of U. of C., Dr. Martin Beech of the University of Regina, and 
> the big meteorite itself.
>    The door to private lands thus opened, Dr. Hildebrand could scarcely 
> refuse our offer to help, and for the rest of the day we traipsed through 
> parts of the A.Mitchell property, through grassland and cow pastures, 
> areas of heavy brush and frozen marshes where a broken ankle was a misstep 
> away. Franklin took a tumble at one point and I nearly fell a couple of 
> times, but luckily no harm done.  We tried to focus particularly on frozen 
> ponds where meteorites will not survive the spring thaw. Our search was 
> more exhausting than exhaustive ... I'm sure it would take a coordinated 
> team of a hundred people a week to properly search the full extent of the 
> fall area, some of which is completely unsearchable.
>    One last thing: on Friday when the press scrum took place, I scouted 
> around the area with my trusty 10x50 binnies and spotted a second small 
> slough which when seen from a little further down the road had a very 
> likely black suspect projecting out of it. It was in a fenced area, so I 
> couldn't get close to it, but I told Ellen Milley (the grad student who 
> made the original find) about my preliminary observation, and she 
> undertook to check it out a.s.a.p. On Saturday the farmer confirmed that 
> it had indeed been a meteorite and an interesting specimen at that; and 
> yesterday Dr. Hildebrand told me it was an "oriented meteorite", which as 
> he explained it doesn't tumble on the way in and therefore develops a 
> distinctive cone-shaped melt pattern. Alister later told me the shape of 
> the Apollo capsules (or was it the heat shields? this was on the ride 
> home) was designed in part by the aerodynamic structures formed naturally 
> by oriented meteorites. I keep telling people I'm a meteoricist, not a 
> meteoriticist, but I'm learning! Unfortunately, I never did get to see 
> this particular specimen ... yet. Maybe I can coax a picture from somebody 
> on the research team at some point.
>    Meanwhile, I will soon post a few pics of my own to a website Stephen 
> Bedingfield is setting up for the purpose. I'll post a link in due course.
>    Bruce
>    *****
> _______________________________________________
> Mailing list meteorobs: meteorobs at meteorobs.org
> To UNSUBSCRIBE, email: owner-meteorobs at meteorobs.org
> http://lists.meteorobs.org/mailman/listinfo/meteorobs 

More information about the Meteorobs mailing list