Canadian meteorite photo gallery

By Phil Plait | January 9, 2009 10:03 am

Remember the ginormous fireball that rained rocks down on western Canada in November? Scientists rushed to the scene, and found a large number of meteorites in pristine condition sitting on or slightly embedded in the ice covering a frozen fish pond near Lone Rock, Saskatchewan.

Well, Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Space & Science Foundation has posted a whole bunch of totally cool pictures of the find. These two are my favorites:

Two pictures from the Canadian fireball meteorites of Nov. 2008

On the left is PhD candidate Ellen Milley, and gives you a sense of scale for the meteorites — though the biggest chunk they found is 13 kg and about as big as your head. This little one is in situ, sitting on the ice. The picture on the right is a microphotograph of a thin slice of one of the meteorites, showing a chondrule of olivine crystal. Olivine is a relatively simple crystal found in lots of meteorites, and can be very pretty. Images like this will help the scientists understand more about the original asteroid, including possibly its age and past history.

And let me add: I am super jealous. I would love to go out and find a fresh fall like this! I’m fascinated by meteorites (I have a few on my shelf at home) and I’d give my left setting circle to be able to find them in the field. Wow.

Comments (43)

  1. RAF

    Just sitting there on the ice…that’s amazing…I can see why you (not just you, ME TOO) are jealous.

  2. kuhnigget

    Is that a frozen ripple I see surrounding that rock? Jeebers, but it must be cold up there!

  3. Timothy from Boulder

    The close up photos of the meteorite sitting on the ice also are physical confirmations of something Phil has mentioned several times … despite what is universally depicted in movies, meteorites are not lava-hot glowing balls landing as if shot from an artillary gun. And they do not explode when they hit (thank you, Michael Bey). They fall at terminal velocity and are warm enough to melt a little ice. That’s it.

  4. Is that a frozen ripple I see surrounding that rock? Jeebers, but it must be cold up there!

    Here’s the current weather near Lone Rock:

    Lloydminster
    [ Saskatchewan ]
    Current Conditions

    Observed at: Lloydminster Airport 11:00 AM MST Friday 9 January 2009

    Condition:
    Cloudy

    Temperature:
    -25.8°C

    Pressure / Tendency:
    102.9 kPa / falling

    Visibility:
    24 km

    Humidity:
    65%

    Wind Chill:
    -37

    Dew Point:
    -30.4°C

    Wind Speed:
    SSW 17 km/h

  5. DaveS

    You DO see the unmistakable image of The Mother Mary (or maybe PZ Myers) in the right-hand photograph, don’t you? It’s a Miracle!
    :-)

  6. mus

    Just the other day (3 days ago) I had a dream where I saw a meteorite crash. it was awesome. Then (still in dream) I saw two stars fall into each other in the sky (nice spiraling motion too). Then (again, dream) I saw something that looked almost exactly like this- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kelvin_Helmholz_wave_clouds.jpg I remember even thinking that now I knew what it was, since I had learned it from BA.

  7. IVAN3MAN

    To paraphrase Jackie Mason: Why do weathermen give the temperature at the airport; who lives at the airport?

  8. zeppo

    Meteorologists are often based at airports so they care more about the weather at airports than about where we, the great unwashed, happen to work and live. That makes some sort of sense.

    Ginormous?! This is nonsensical. The root is “giant” so everyone should know that the proper way to spell this word is “gianormous”. I suppose the ‘a’ must be silent. If you go on a further flight of fancy you can extend the word into “gianormosity” (as in curiosity).

  9. To paraphrase Jackie Mason: Why do weathermen give the temperature at the airport; who lives at the airport?

    I personally live on the approach path for runway 22 here in Ottawa, within a 5 minute drive of the McDonald-Cartier International Airport.

    I also live in an urban neighbourhood. Probably 10000 people live in that same 5-minute drive-to-the-airport range.

  10. Trebuchet

    Great pictures, but that PhD candidate looks about 12 years old. I feel sooooo old now!

  11. Gary Ansorge

    I love meteorites, used to have a tektite purchased from a science museum 35 years ago,,,I think that ended up with my wife when we split up, dang it,,,(she got all the cool stuff,,,)

    I found a metallic rock here at Red Top Mountain, very slightly responsive to a magnet. It LOOKS a bit like the pics I see of meteors, but since this area was a long time iron mine it may just be a chunk of slag. How can I find out if it is indeed a meteor?

    GAry 7

  12. justcorbly

    Why do weathermen give the temperature at the airport; who lives at the airport?

    Who lives at the TV studio?

  13. a. tymstra

    POEM:

    On a frozen pond,
    it sits so nice.
    A little star,
    stuck in the ice.

    It’s not a leaf,
    I heard you say.
    Pieces of heaven.
    came this way.

    Older than earth,
    it traveled far.
    Now in your hand,
    you have a star.

    by
    a. tymstra

  14. Mang

    @kuhnigget it’s mid-northern Saskatchewan there -40 is not uncommon in the daytime. In fact they are known for flash freezes. Pretty scary to witness.

    Mind you if you’re lucky the frogs get frozen mid jump and there’s nothing like fresh frogs legs! Yum.

  15. kuhnigget

    @ Gary:

    I love meteorites, used to have a tektite

    Oh yeah, well I used to have a meteorite, too! It came inside a box of Quisp cereal back in the 60s!

    @ Mang:

    Dang!

  16. gopher65

    I live near there (in Saskatoon), and just the other day it got down to -54F … if you include windchill. Temperatures of -40 (still air temp) are fairly rare.

  17. gopher65

    Has anyone noticed how I give temperatures that are warmer than -40 in Celsius, and temperatures that are colder than -40 in Fahrenheit?
    ;)

  18. Mang

    @gopher – my dad was from near Strasbourgh and I know for a fact that -40 wasn’t that uncommon. BTW you are clearly an optimist.

  19. ***BREAKING NEWS****
    Canadian Meteor Brings Hawt Snow-Suit Wearing Alien To Earth!!!

    Just kidding!!!! (Well, actually no… but…)

  20. Follow-up…
    Snow Suits are the Canadian equivalent of bikinis ;)

  21. Helioprogenus

    Phil, if you want to find meteorites in the field, just go to the snow drifts near McMudro station in Antarctica. I hear it’s one of the most meteorite friendly places on earth, since the flowing glaciers tend to deposit meteorites like the Mars “bacterially contaminated” one in troughs within accessible locations in the snow. Yes, it might be cold, and they’re not exactly fresh, but their pristine location and absence of external contamination are probably prime for discoveries of crystalline growth, etc.

    @ zeppo, since Ginormous is an invented word, it doesn’t necessarily have to have come from the root of giant. Perhaps it comes from the root giga. Giganormous sounds pretty linguistically fluid but perhaps a bit too pedantic for people’s tastes.

  22. Blaidd Drwg

    Dave S, I don’t know, to me, the image on the right looks more like the image of Neil Armstrong’s boot when he “Stepped onto the Moon” back in ’69. Thus PROVING that the “moon landings” were faked, but not in Arizona, as was originally reported, but in CANADA!!!!!!!!111!!!

  23. Gary Ansorge:

    I found a metallic rock here at Red Top Mountain, very slightly responsive to a magnet. It LOOKS a bit like the pics I see of meteors, but since this area was a long time iron mine it may just be a chunk of slag. How can I find out if it is indeed a meteor?

    Gary, click on my name for the link to: How Do You Know if it is a Meteorite?

  24. Gary, click on my name again for the link to: What To Do If You Find Or Have Found A Meteorite

  25. Gary, click on my name yet again for the link to: What To Do If You Think That You’ve Found a Lunar (or Some Other Kind of) Meteorite

  26. That’s incredibly cool. I saw a similar fireball over Alberta in the 1970s. Great to think they can pick up bits of it. But no Superman as a baby, though.

    I have a question: do they have a chance of finding previously unknown compounds in meteorites? Or are such things purely science fiction? Di-lithium, and such.

  27. Gary Ansorge

    IVAN3MAN:

    From those articles, it appears I have a piece of rusted magnetite, however, I’m uncertain enough that I’ll have to get a piece of tile and do the streak test,,,I note that the rock itself is NOT magnetic, tho slightly responsive to a magnet,,,ah well, the hunt continues.

    Thanks for the input.

    GAry 7

  28. kuhnigget

    “Perhaps it comes from the root giga. Giganormous sounds pretty linguistically fluid but perhaps a bit too pedantic for people’s tastes.”

    Gigantor, Gigantor, Gigantor.

    Gigantor the space aged robot,
    He is at your command.
    Gigantor the space aged robot,
    His power is in your hand.

    Bigger than big, taller than tall,
    Quicker than quick, stronger than strong.
    Ready to fight for right, against wrong.

    Gigantor, Gigantor, Gigantor.

    How geeky is that?

  29. RAF

    To answer the “how geeky” question…

    The third line should read “is at your command”. There is no “he”. :)

  30. kuhnigget

    I bow before the master!

    Hey, it was a long time ago!!!

  31. RAF

    Hey…you DID get the rest of the song right, so you get “geek points” for that :) :)

  32. How come everyone seems so confused about “ginormous”? This colloquial word has been around for ages and is clearly a cut-and-shut job based on “gigantic” and “enormous”. What’s the problem? :)

  33. A pretty lady and a thing from outer space. It is not a 1950s low budget horror movie, but a real and happy fact. Thanks for the pictures guys.
    :D

  34. tresmal

    @Jack Ruttan: “I have a question: do they have a chance of finding previously unknown compounds in meteorites? Or are such things purely science fiction? Di-lithium, and such.”

    If you mean real science fictiony stuff with bizarre properties, no. There may be rocks with somewhat different mixes of elements than are found here on Earth, but they will still be rocks. No Di-lithium crystals. :(

  35. Joe Meils

    What to do if you find a meteorite:
    #1. Do NOT poke it with a stick. It may have a gooey, hungry center.
    #2. Listen for sounds of movement coming from within. If it starts rotating…unscrewing, seek cover.
    #3. Resist any attempt by the alien mind within the rock to take over your body.

  36. Tresmal: Durn.

    Well, if not cosmic rocks with amazing proprties, at least I can hope for strange invasive life forms, various alien ships, and Martian Fighting Machines.

  37. kuhnigget

    @ Jack Ruttan:

    If the meteorite happens to be pod-shaped, by all means place it beside your bed before you retire for the evening.

    Trust me. Everything will be fine. Just fine….

  38. DaveS

    Blaidd Drwg, I know this will cement my position as hopelessly nerdy, but the boot print photo you’re thinking of was made by Buzz Aldrin’s boot, not Neil Armstrong’s.

  39. Jennifer

    We could see the meteor all the way here in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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