German Teenager Struck by Meteorite?

Talk about teenage angst!  

Gerrit Blank, a fourteen year old from Essen, Germany, was walking to school one day when he suddenly saw a ball of light and then was struck in the hand by what German astronomer Ansgar Kortem describes as “a real meteorite.”  However, in another account which appeared on MSNBC, Darryl Pitt, an expert on meteorites, called Blank’s story “theoretically impossible.”    

Meteor strikes on humans are indeed quite rare.  Perhaps the best documented event occurred in Sylacauga, Alabama, in 1954, when a woman was hit while asleep on a couch, the meteorite having crashed through the roof of her house.  Of course, the closest most of us will ever get to a meteorite is in a museum.

Meteors or shooting stars are another story, and just about everyone has had a chance to see at least a few of these.  As you probably know, annual meteor showers like the Perseids and Geminids afford excellent opportunities for observing meteors.  During one of these displays when I was a teenager, I recall seeing a fine bolide meteor; unlike ordinary shooting stars, it was very bright, reddish, and seemed literally to burst in space.  And every once in a while we’ll hear of a truly spectacular meteor caught on camera, such as this one seen from Guadalajara, Mexico

At any rate, if you’re interested in meteors and meteorites, The Fallen Sky:  An Intimate History of Shooting Stars by Christopher Cokinos (on order) looks like a good one — and even though we don’t have it yet, you can place a hold on it.  

Other books Greensboro Public Library has on this topic include:  The Rock from Mars:  A Detective Story on Two Planets by Kathy Sawyer; Falling Stars:  A Guide to Meteors and Meteorites by Mike D. Reynolds; Comets, Asteroids, and Meteorites by Roy A. Gallant (juvenile); Comets and Meteor Showers by Paul P. Sipiera (juvenile); Killer Rocks from Outer Space: Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites by Steven N. Koppes (juvenile); The Meteorite & Tektite Collector’s Handbook:  A Practical Guide to Their Acquisition, Preservation and Display by Philip M. Bagnall; Meteorites:  A Journey Through Space and Time by Alex Bevan and John de Laeter; and Meteors, Meteorites, and Meteoroids by Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moser (juvenile).

Lastly, you can find lots of information about meteorites, as well as other science-related stuff, in Science Online.


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