Meteorite found on Golf Course... Sept 14, 2006 19:32:30 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Sept 14, 2006 19:32:30 GMT -6
Experts say pea-size rock found near Chicago on golf course is a meteorite
Defying what a local science professor calls "astronomical odds," what appears to be a pea-size meteorite was found this summer on the green at the 14th hole at Aurora Country Club.
"The odds of anybody finding something like this around here or anywhere is pretty remote," said Mark Horrell, who has a Ph.D. in geophysical science and teaches astronomy and astrophysics at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
On Wednesday, Horrell examined the extraterrestrial pebble and determined it "has all the hallmarks of a meteorite," but more conclusive tests will need to be conducted.
Golf course grounds superintendent John Gurke found the meteorite while doing his early-morning scouting for turf disease or "anything out of the ordinary" at the course on the southwest side of Aurora. From afar, he noticed a burn mark about 5 inches in diameter "dead center" of the green.
At first, Gurke was peeved because he thought it was a urination stain from a coyote or fox. But as he got closer, he noticed a small hole in the center of the burn spot and dug out the spherical rock and some shrapnel.
Gurke ran to his office and googled "meteorite."
"It described exactly what I found," he said.
Gurke's wife, Julie, who works at Aurora University, asked science professors there what they thought. Eventually they referred the Gurkes to Horrell at IMSA.
Horrell and Bob Brazzle, a physics teacher at IMSA, were star-struck when they realized the rock actually could be a meteorite.
"A lot of people think they found one, but it's actually a piece of limestone or something," Horrell said. "There's nothing I've ever seen like this."
He said only about one in 1,000 suspected meteorites actually turns out to be a meteorite.
And Gurke's is on its way to being one of them. The rock reacted to a magnet, meaning it has the high content of iron found in meteorites, and it came with a charred-looking outer crust showing that it cooled and recrystallized after being heated in the atmosphere, Brazzle said.
The pea-size pebble was made even smaller Wednesday, when it was cracked during testing.
Horrell said its texture and dark lavender and metallic color is not like anything you'd expect to find naturally occurring in the Midwest.
Both scientists said it's rare to find a meteorite that small, because they typically become camouflaged in the ground.
"If it hadn't been on the green, he probably wouldn't have found it," Horrell said.
I would have preferred if he treated the scene like a crimminal investigation and preserved the site with pics before digging it out...but it's cool nevertheless...