Astronomy:Peekskill meteorite

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The Peekskill meteorite is among the most historic meteorite events on record.[1] Sixteen separate video recordings document the meteorite burning through the Earth's atmosphere, whereupon it struck a parked car in Peekskill, New York.[2] Peekskill is an H6 monomict breccia;[3] its filigreed texture is the result of the shocking and heating following the impact of two asteroids in outer space.[4] The meteorite is of the stony variety and approximately 20% of its mass is tiny flakes of nickel-iron.[5] When it struck Earth, the meteorite weighed 26 pounds (12 kg) and measured one foot (0.30 m) in diameter. The Peekskill meteorite is estimated to be 4.4 billion years old.[6]


The meteorite fell on October 9, 1992 – an event witnessed by thousands across the East Coast. Numerous residents of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. described the "huge greenish fireball."[7] The meteorite broke up over Kentucky and passed over West Virginia and Pennsylvania on its north-northeast trajectory before striking a parked 1980 red Chevy Malibu at approximately 7:50 pm EDT. After traveling through space at a cosmic velocity of 8.8 miles per second (14 km/s, 31,600 miles per hour), the speed of the meteorite at impact had slowed to 164 miles per hour (264 km/h).[8]


As the meteorite fell on a Friday evening, its descent was captured on video by many high school football fans taping local games. The descent was captured by 16 different cameras. Only a handful of meteorite falls have been caught on film —and only the 2013 Russian meteor event has been captured from more angles and localities. The multiple perspectives provided scientists with the ability to calculate the meteorite's flight path to Earth.[9]


After having been slowed by the Earth's atmosphere, the meteorite was traveling at approximately 164 miles per hour (264 km/h) at impact. Peekskill smashed through the trunk of a red 1980 Chevrolet Malibu[10] and narrowly missed the gas tank, finally coming to rest in an impact pit beneath the car. Seventeen-year-old Michelle Knapp,[11] the car's owner, heard the collision from inside her home. She later described the sound as “like a three-car crash”. Hurrying outside to investigate the noise, Knapp found her car smashed and the meteorite weighing 27.28 pounds (12.37 kg), or 12.4 kg,[12] still warm and smelling of sulfur, beneath it.[13]


Knapp retrieved the meteorite, after which it was sold to a consortium of three dealers for $50,000.[14][15] Today, small specimens of Peekskill sell for approximately $125 per gram.

Knapp had just purchased the car for $300. Immediately following the extraterrestrial impact, it was sold to Iris Lang, wife of renowned meteorite collector and dealer Al Lang, for $25,000.[16] Since then, it has been on display in numerous museums throughout the world, including New York City's American Museum of Natural History and France's National Museum of Natural History.[17]

The car, as well as the main mass of the meteorite (which currently weighs 890 grams), are now in the Macovich Collection of Meteorites.[18] Additional specimens of the meteorite can be found in Chicago's Field Museum, the American National History Museum, and the Smithsonian.

See also


  1. Norton, Richard (1998). Rocks from Space. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company. pp. 85–87. 
  2. Beech, Martin. "The Peekskill Meteorite and Fireball". University of Regina, Canada. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  3. "The Meteoritical Bulletin - MB75". The Meteoritical Society. 
  4. "Peekskill". Montreal Planetarium. Archived from the original on 2006-05-21. 
  6. "Historic Meteorites and Related Americana - October 2007". Bonhams Auction House. 
  7. "Peekskill". The Montreal Planetarium. Archived from the original on 2006-05-21. 
  8. Norton, Richard. Rocks from Space. 
  9. Beech, Martin. "The Peekskill Meteorite and Fireball". University of Regina, Canada. 
  10. "Peekskill Meteorite: Top 10 Meteorites". Discovery. 
  11. Gannett Suburban Newspaper Oct. 10, 11, 13, 1992
  12. Nature magazine Vol. 367, Feb. 1994
  13. Norton, O. Richard (1994). Rocks From Space. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 
  14. Norton, Richard. Rocks from Space. 
  15. Langheinrich, R.A. "The Peekskill Meteorite Car". Archived from the original on 2012-06-27. 
  16. Norton, O. Richard. Rocks from Space. 
  17. "Meteorite People". Meteorite Times Magazine. 
  18. "The Macovich Collection of Meteorites". 

External links

All in French. meteorite was the original source. Read more.