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Asteroid Watch
Fireballs from the Sky
Week 2 - February 10, 2003
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Hello Asteroid project participants,
Have you had a chance yet to do the opening activity? (Let me know if you have any problems opening the PDF file in week 1.) The first lesson of Exploring Meteorite Mysteries described Brodie's and Brian's encounter with a meteorite. Fortunately, it did not strike them and they were able to report their discovery. Not all strikes have been harmless. In fact, John Lewis in his book, "Rain of Iron and Ice" has a whole chapter on the history of meteorite strikes. He lists over 150 documented reports of meteorite damage. Referring to Lewis's list, Charles Frankel in "The End of Dinosaurs" writes on Page 176-177:

"In the course of the [20th century] it is worth noting that five cars have been struck by meteorites without loss of life....Because of the veneration surrounding automobiles - and their market value as collector's items -  these car hits have been widely publicized, so much so that one might  wonder if they attract meteorites in some mysterious way! However, a look at John Lewis's list shows that buildings register many more hits. A staggering total of over 50 strikes on houses, sheds, barns, farmhouses, and other buildings are reported in the 20th century alone. To round off the list, there are two cases of planes sweeping through - and surviving meteor showers, and two case of boats being hit (1936 & 1938) the first being set ablaze by the strike. At least two forest fires are also attributed to impacts, in Mexico (1910) and Massachusetts (1921). Finally among the most humorous cosmic strikes, one mailbox was demolished by a meteorite in Georgia (1984); a meteorite flew into a room through an opened window in Japan 1949); and the dome of an amateur telescope was pierced by a pair of meteorites in Washington  State, setting astronomy books on fire. There were also about 1/2 a dozen people killed by strikes. The same number of deaths occurred in the 19th century."

You can see some cool videos of meteors flying through the sky at

To do list:

  • Have your students find evidence of strikes like the ones above by searching the Web. Have them share what they find with our group by sending an email to me ( and I will post it on the discussion & email board.
  • These meteor strikes are not earth threatening events. However, they are pieces of larger rocks that could do a lot more damage. What's the difference between meteors, meteorites, meteoroids, and asteroids? Where do they come from? There is some information about this in the teacher's guide (pages 1-5 in Exploring Meteor Mysteries ). But feel free to use your own sources for this and don't forget to share them with us.
  • During this coming week, have your students come up with examples of why we should or should not be concerned about meteor (or asteroid) strikes.  I will post your offerings on our website.

Resources for you to explore
You will find these links for Week 2 on the Teacher page:

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Jason Smith - the reporter for the Armageddon News - has some interesting information about Project NEAR which he promises to share with you. (I tried calling him again this morning, but he wasn't in.)

More to come...

Regards - Ihor

Ihor Charischak
Asteroid Watch Projector coordinator

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