(meteorobs) Re: Arizona Fireball June 7, 1998
In a message dated 98-06-11 14:17:10 EDT, you write:
You might want to refer to the following website about this:
Apparently it occurred in the evening of June 7, 1998 near Phoenix, AZ at
around 20h58m MDT...(2h58 UT June 7/8)
Wanted: Meteor fragments
By Martin Van Der Werf
The Arizona Republic
June 11, 1998
The brilliant meteor raced across Arizona in seconds. Then it blew up
with a flash brighter than the nearly full moon in the same sky and a
boom that could be heard from Phoenix to Tucson.
Now, scientists, collectors and bounty hunters are in an intense race to
find the first evidence that fragments of the meteor reached the ground.
Scientists at the University of Arizona believe that the fragments, if
there are any, likely will be found somewhere within a wide swatch of
desert in Maricopa, Pinal or Pima counties.
They have taken hundreds of eyewitness accounts of the bright flash and
the loud explosion of the object that screamed across the sky at 8:58
p.m. Sunday like it had "a mean attitude," in the words of one observer.
How to recognize a meteorite
It will have a fusion crust on at least one side, a glossy, black
coating that is up to a millimeter thick.
The rock should look solid. It won't have bubblelike pockets or pores.
Meteorites will either be made of a stony material or of iron or other
If it is stone, it will be studded with metallic silver specks, but
they won't be shiny.
If it is iron, it will be about three times heavier than rocks of
A magnet would be strongly attracted.
The rock must be differentiated from a magnatite nodule, a common rock
to Arizona. A magnatite nodule is about twice as heavy as other rocks,
gun-metal grey and has metallic specks that shine.
Source: David Kring, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of
On Wednesday, Robert Haag of Tucson, one of the world's foremost
meteorite hunters, heightened interest a little more. He offered a
$5,000 reward for the first fragment of the object to be found, $10,000
if the piece weighs more than one kilogram, about 2.2 pounds.
"A gold mine just landed somewhere in Arizona," said Haag, known on the
Internet as the Meteorite Man. "If there was some Indian taking a dinner
break, a camper, a dent in a trailer, anyone who saw something fall from
the sky, that's the kind of evidence we need. With all the collectors
worldwide -- more than 10,000 now -- people are going to be clamoring
for a piece of this."
David Kring, a research scientist at the UA Lunar and Planetary
Laboratory, said he hasn't ruled out that the object was space debris,
such as a piece of a fallen satellite, but it is almost certain that it
was a meteor.
Meteors, moving at incredible rates of speed -- this one was estimated
at 25,000 mph -- often explode in Earth's dense atmosphere. When that
happens, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stones rain to the ground.
Because they have lost most of their downward force, they rarely form
craters after midair explosions. Instead, the pebbles look much like
those around them, except for a glossy black paper-thin crust on at
least one side.
There have been 31 other recorded meteorite finds in Arizona, but this
is apparently only the second one to be witnessed. An asteroid exploded
over Holbrook in 1912, and an estimated 14,000 fragments fell in and
around the town.
Scientists have preliminarily said that this meteor appears to have been
1 meter to 2 meters in diameter. However, it could be anywhere from the
size of a football to a standard-sized desk, Kring said.
Joe Montani, an observer with the UA Spacewatch program, which scans the
heavens looking for comets and asteroids, saw this object from his back
yard in central Tucson.
He said it appeared in the sky almost due north, and while it appeared
to go almost straight down toward the ground, that likely was an optical
illusion. Montani believes it may have been moving almost parallel to
the Earth's surface.
"If its angle of attack had been any more shallow, it would have bounced
off the Earth's atmosphere and back into space," Montani said.
Kring said he does not know how high above the Earth's surface the
meteor was when it exploded.
Steve Kates, who hosts a weekly radio show and gives talks locally under
the moniker Dr. Sky, was tracking Motorola's grid of Iridium satellites
from a yard near Northern and Central avenues in Phoenix when he saw the
meteor's reflection in a swimming pool.
"This thing was like it had electricity attached to it, like it had a
mean attitude to it," Kates said.
Kring is still asking for eyewitness accounts, although he only wants
people to call who can give exact measurements of where they were when
they saw it and its relation to landmarks on the ground or other stars
in the sky. His office number is (520) 621-2024.
When the area can be narrowed down, Kring has a number of volunteers who
are ready to go into the desert and look for remains, acre by acre.
Unless Haag and his people get there first.
"I'm loading up the Hummer right now," Haag said late Wednesday
afternoon. He is heading to a site near Glorieta, N.M., where hundreds
of remnants of a meteorite have been found in recent weeks.
"But if they find one piece, I'll bail out of what I am doing, and I
will be down there as soon as I can get there."
Martin Van Der Werf can be reached at 444-4421 or at
firstname.lastname@example.org via e-mail.
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