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Re: Cumbrian meteorite..?


I hate to say this because I love your optimism...(we've all been there in
our pursuit of this otherworldly material)...but based on what you've
indicated, I would suggest that the liklihood of your coming up empty is
exceedingly probable.


At 03:46 PM 7/15/98 -0400, you wrote:
>Hi List,
>Following List advice on how I could go about locating any meteorites in my
>part of the world, I wrote a piece for my local paper asking for people to
>contact me if they a) had rock piles which mught be worth checking out for
>meteorites, and b) if they had any "strange" rocks which might be meteorites.
>That piece appeared in tonight's edition...
>... and I've just had a retired gentleman on the phone with a *very*
>interesting account of a spectacular fireball which sounds suspiciously
like a
>Fall to me... 
>Here's what I've got from him in our intitial conversation:
>WHEN? "About 30 years ago..." (yes, I know it's vague, but he was adamant
>this was a fireball very widely reported in the media at the time, it was "in
>all the papers and in the news", and "all the meteorite experts wanted to
>it..." so there must be records somewhere..?
>WHERE? The fireball moved northwards, was first visible over London and
the SE
>of England and travelled almost the length of England, "coming down" off the
>Solway coast here in Cumbria. My gentleman was adamant that at the time
>"hundreds" of people saw it, so there must be someone out there on the List
>with records of things like this? (Rob? Bernd? are you listening..? :-)  )
>WHAT DID HE SEE? Okay, this is where it gets real interesting, because this
>guy has absolutely NO astronomical knowledge - I tested him with a few q's,
>subtly - but he gave an almost textbook description of a bright
fireball... he
>saw "a bright, football shaped ball of fire moving overhead, with a great
>tongue of flame behind it".... and thought, quote, "Oh my god, there's a
>on fire!"... then "it started to sputter out..." and it actually "passed
>over our {he watched this with a friend} heads ..." and it was, get this,
>"HISSING AND SIZZLING as it flew"... and it "just missed taking the top off a
>big barn before going out..." and "when it had gone out it left "a big plume
>of black smoke..."
>Now, like most non-astronomers who witness a bright meteor he's convinced
>something came down, absolutely convinced (and he phoned because it's
>"bothered" him for years, ever since it happened, he didn't say anything at
>the time because it frightened him a little and he wasn't wanting any fuss,
>after reading my piece he realised that maybe someone else could handle the
>fuss! He just wants his curiosity satisfied now...!), and when I pointed out
>how misleading bright fireballs can be, he accepted that, no problem...
but he
>has told me that if it DID come down, then he can - and will - take me to the
>exact field on the coast where "it went out"... He sounded very genuine, and
>very, very excited to have read my article because it "brought it all
>So, what I'm thinking is this: if his story checks out and there was such a
>spectacular- well-reported fireball approx 30 years ago - and I need help

>you good people on this - I'll take him up on his offer and go along to this
>field, at worst to confirm that he was mistaken and it either vanished in
>air or indeed fell into the sea, a little further along the track... or, at
>best, find "it" or some pieces of "it". If this happened 30 years ago the
>chances are that anything that came down will be weathered and beaten up a
>bit, but the field is a farm field, so maybe pieces were found without being
>recognised and discarded, and are just waiting to be picked up..?
>A VERY long shot, I know.... but it has to be worth a look, right?
>Over to you guys. Did this happen? All opinions / suggestions gratefully
>Stuart A 
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