Feb 2016

Meteorites fall on Biingol Turkey

Last September 2, just before midnight local time, villagers in Eastern Turkey were wakened by quite a different shower –rocks from space! The toc-toc-toc of falling meteorites was preceded by a loud sonic boom which shocked some residents out of their beds. In the morning, small black stones were noticed on some of the roofs, on roads and in area gardens and before a few days went by, over 250 samples of space rocks were collected. The village of Saricicek in the province of Bingӧl, north of the border between Syria and Iraq was the main location where an estimated 230 kg of space rocks came down on our planet. That number has been recently revised to under 50 kg, but this is still a hefty mass from space. Still, meteorite falls are not that uncommon, witness another more recent fall form a fireball over Florida on Jan 24. In that one, a more modest amount was collected, only a kilogram or so, but the hunt is still on there.

A 4.38 gram of the Bingol Meteorites photo by J.Hlynialuk

The most fascinating aspect of the Bingӧl fall, however, is that scientists have now determined that they are a very rare example of meteorite called a “howardite”. Howardites come from not just a nameless chunk of space rock out in the asteroid belt, but specifically from Vesta –the second most massive asteroid and the 4th discovered at the start of the 19th century. NASA’s spacecraft Dawn circled Vesta from July 2011 to September 2012 and during that time, the geologic makeup of the asteroid was analyzed from close up. There are even some indications of which craters might have been the source of these meteorites. Only the largest craters would have involved impacts powerful enough to blast fragments into space –pieces that eventually came to Earth on the rooftops of a sleepy village in Turkey.

Now for the Owen Sound connection: -a local meteorite collector Mike Tettenborn, managed to get two specimens of the Bingӧl meteorite and he will display them at the Mar 2 meeting of the Bluewater Astronomical Society. That takes place at the Grey Roots Museum in the Delton Becker meeting room starting at 7 pm on Wed March 2. The public is welcome to attend at no charge.

The first 353 million km of the meteorite’s trip from Vesta was special delivery by our solar system’s gravity, the last 9039.17 km to the Grey Roots Museum was by plane, FedEx truck and automobile! Don’t miss seeing it.

by John Hlynialuk