Tag: Lorton Meteorite
It turns out the Doctors who gave the Lorton Meteorite to the Smithsonian didn’t own the building that got hit and after finding out about it the landlords (the legal owners of the rock) want the meteorite back. The museum offered to pay the landlords $5,000. Turns out the rock is worth $25,000-$50,000. A 300 gram rock at $30 per gram (the low end price for something like this) would be $9,000, at $100 per gram (the super hype price) that would be $30,000 + the hammer stone bonus, first stone in a witnessed fall in the nations capital bonus and all the media hype some bidders might be willing to pay up to $50,000 for this rock. You can read the full article here or watch this update from the local news.
Aerospace engineer and meteor scientist Rob Matson has taken a first crack at an estimated strewnfield for the Lorton meteorite. Since no video of the event has yet been released, Rob used multiple witness reports, radar data, the hammer stone location and wind speed information to plot the possible locations for other meteorites from this fall. Rob has stressed the importance of searching within a 1 mile radius of the Dr’s office first but has provided this additional information should those search areas become exhausted. One should not interpret these coordinates in an x-marks-the-spot type of way. They should serve more as a general guide to areas where different sized stones would be if they existed. The strategy Rob suggested was drawing a line between the dots and covering those areas, but only after exhausting the areas around the Dr’s office.
Here is a map of the coordinates plotted in Google Earth.
Here is a copy of the Google Earth KMZ file for the Lorton Meteorite Estimated Strewnfield. You will need Google Earth installed on your computer in order to view this file.
Here are the raw data coordinates for the various masses:
Mass Longitude Latitude Dist (mi) Bearing
——- ——— ——– ——— ——-
3 g -77.12929 38.73888 5.2 59.3
5 g -77.14419 38.73268 4.3 58.7
15 g -77.16179 38.72688 3.2 56.0
40 g -77.18079 38.71908 2.1 52.6
120 g -77.19569 38.71088 1.1 50.6
(308 g) -77.21159 38.70068 -0- N/A
1150 g -77.22609 38.69048 1.1 228.0
3750 g -77.24249 38.67848 2.3 227.4
It looks like one of the points is on the driving range of the Fort Belvoir Golf Course. That would be a nice easy place to search if you had access.
There have been no new discoveries reported.
If you are a local resident in the Lorton area you are encouraged to be on the lookout for meteorites. Should you find one, please record the exact location where it was found and contact me at mike.hankey [AT] gmail.com
On Wednesday night I watched the series premier of the new Meteorite Men TV show on the science channel. The show was fantastic and a must see! It airs Wednesday nights at 9:00 PM (and re-runs at 11:00 PM I think) on the science channel. Around 1:30 AM that night I was checking my emails before I went to bed and got an email from Steve Arnold, one of the costars of the show. The email read:
- What are you doing tomorrow? Want to go meteorite hunting?
My response was of course ‘heck ya’, but I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought to myself, am I dreaming? On the reply Steve filled me in on what had happened in Lorton. The funny thing is, Monday night at 6:00 PM I got a call from Mike Gaines (star witness of the Mason Dixon Meteor). Mike told me his daughter had just seen a huge fireball. At the time I said to myself, I can only handle one fireball right now and didn’t give it much thought. Turns out that meteorite knocked a whole in a Doctor’s Office just a few minutes earlier. The news didn’t hit the meteorite world until late Wednesday.
I met up with Steve at the airport and then drove down to Lorton Virginia Thursday afternoon. Steve was pretty tied up with the media people and the TV production crew so I used the time to get some fresh hunting in at the spot. There had only been a couple of other meteorite hunters there before us so it was virgin territory right next to a confirmed fall. What else could you ask for? Well after a couple of days of hunting and turning up nada I can conclude hunting in a confirmed fall area is just as hard as hunting in Lancaster County. Despite the rain and freezing rain more hunters showed up Friday but to my knowledge no one has found any additional stones yet.
On the positive side, there are numerous witness reports of lots of fragmentation and multiple burning embers falling from the sky. This means there are a lot more rocks to be found. The area is densely populated and relatively easy searching terrain. There are lots of parking lots, public places, parks and walking paths. The exact trajectory is still unknown and to my knowledge no videos have yet been recovered. Finding video evidence of this fireball is critical to finding more meteorites on the ground. While we have an impact point, the orientation and relationship of this stone to the rest of the strewnfield is still unknown. I know Derek Bower and several other meteorite hunters will be hunting the area for the next few weeks. There is a very good chance more stones will be found soon. Personally I think I’m going to sit the rest of this one out. I can only handle one fireball at a time.
Here’s a map of the area and what is currently believed to be the primary search grounds.
Even with a hammer stone the sad reality of meteorite hunting is the strewnfield could be up to 8 miles long or longer. In the case of Lorton, because we have no video we don’t know the trajectory of the meteor and therefore can not guess the elongated strewnfield with any degree of certainty, a second stone or recovery of video tape is critical to finding the rest of this meteor.
Here’s a hypothetical take on what the larger strewnfield could look like if it was 8 miles long based on our current knowledge of the trajectory. As you can see the search angle could be anywhere from 45º-70º NE of the original impact site. It is possible larger stones (if they exist) would have traveled SW of the impact site. From a hunting standpoint though the odds are better if you are looking for smaller stones (because there are more of them). The smaller meteorites would be NE of the impact site.
Here are a few articles about the meteor:
- Baltimore Sun – Featuring Yours Truly
- Washington Post
- Frank Roylance’s Baltimore Weather – Over 100 fascinating eye witness accounts
I will keep you posted on any further developments on this meteorite story.
On Monday January 18th at approximately 5:40 PM a huge fireball streaked the skies above PA, MD and VA. A piece of it ripped a hole through the roof of a Dentist’s office (this is called a hammer stone). Witness reports indicate fragmentation and numerous illuminated timbers falling to the ground. There are definitely more stones to be found and we’ve got a really good idea where they are. Meteorite hunting really doesn’t get better than this.