Portion of the meteorite in the National Museum of Natural History
|Region||Peekskill, New York|
|TKW||12 kilograms (26 lb)|
|Related media on Wikimedia Commons|
The Peekskill meteorite is among the most historic meteorite events on record. Sixteen separate video recordings document the meteorite burning through the Earth's atmosphere, whereupon it struck a parked car in Peekskill, New York. Peekskill is an H6 monomict breccia; its filigreed texture is the result of the shocking and heating following the impact of two asteroids in outer space. The meteorite is of the stony variety and approximately 20% of its mass is tiny flakes of nickel-iron. 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.
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." 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), the speed of the meteorite at impact had slowed to 164 miles per hour (264 km/h).
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.
After it smashed through the trunk of her red 1980 Chevrolet Malibu, 18-year-old Michelle Knapp retrieved the meteorite, after which it was sold to a consortium of three dealers for more than $69,000. Today, small specimens of Peekskill sell for approximately $125 per gram. The car, as well as the main mass of the meteorite (which weighs 890 grams), are currently in the Macovich Collection of Meteorites. Additional specimens of the meteorite can be found in Chicago's Field Museum, the American National History Museum, and the Smithsonian.
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 Malibu’s trunk and narrowly missed the gas tank, finally coming to rest in an impact pit beneath the car. Eighteen-year-old Michelle Knapp, 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 26 pounds (12 kg), still warm and smelling of sulfur, beneath it.
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 $10,000. 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.
- Glossary of meteoritics
- Tunguska event
- Chelyabinsk meteor
- Vitim event
- Potentially hazardous asteroid
- Near Earth object
- Impact event
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- More about the meteorite
- NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day: Photo of the car and meteorite (19 November 2006)
- The Macovich Collection of Meteorites
- One of Discovery's Top 10 Meteorites
All in French.