CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

November 2, 2012

NASA searches for meteorite in north Alabama

By Ashley Graves
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — A Huntsville-based team from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is expected to return to Cullman today to continue searching for a meteorite that was seen streaking across the northern Alabama sky, causing a loud boom Tuesday afternoon.

The team began looking in an area in the northwest portion of the county Wednesday. According to Dr. Bill Cooke, a NASA meteor expert, the team found several possible pieces, but after testing them Thursday, they ended up being nothing of note.

“It was just a bunch of earth rocks,” Cooke said. “Finding them is often like that; we just have to keep trying.”

Cooke said Tuesday’s event was a rare one, stating that since the 1800’s, there have only been six meteorite falls recorded in Alabama — the latest one in 1954.

“It’s been almost 70 years since a meteorite fall has been seen in Alabama, “Cooke said. “So if we, or someone else finds a piece, it will be the seventh recorded one in Alabama.”

Cooke added that it could be days, weeks, or even months before something is found, specifically because of the area where they believe it might be.

“The problem with where it fell is it’s heavily forested, and it’s very difficult to find with all of the undergrowth,” he said. “This one is going to be a tough one to find, but we’re going to keep at it until we wear out or find something.”

For those wanting to do a little searching of their own in hopes of finding the crown jewel, Cooke said 90 percent of meteorites are small in size and weigh an ounce or less. In addition, he said they’ll be black in color, similar to that of a pencil lead, and they’ll also be attracted to magnets.

Think you’ve hit the jackpot?

Cooke said the next deciding factor in determining whether or not it is a piece of a meteorite is to chip a small piece off and look at the color inside. If it has a light white cement look, then it’s possible No. 7 has been found.



The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at agraves@cullmantimes.com