Sunday, October 9, 2011

Short and Sweet—Meteor Hits Malibu

On the evening of October 9, 1992 a meteor streaked across the eastern United States.  In approximately 40 seconds it was a bright green light reportedly brighter than a full moon streaking across the sky from near Louisville, Kentucky before breaking up over Peekskill, New York.  

Because it crossed the densely populated region in the early evening, it became the most document meteor in history.  It was captured by at least 16 separate video cameras and dozens of stills. Hundreds of thousands, particularly in the Pittsburgh area witnessed the event.

Most visible meteors are the size of pebbles and burn up entirely in the atmosphere.  This one was considerably larger.  After it exploded a number of pieces hit the earth.

One landed in the driveway of Michelle Knapp, or more specifically on the right rear of her 1990 Chevy Malibu denting the trunk and smashing the right tail light and rear bumper.  The piece bounced off and was found nearby.  It weighed about as much as a bowling ball but was much more irregular and was made of a kind of stone common in meteors.  Try explaining that to your State Farm man.

The car was mainly used by Ms. Knapp’s teen age son, who looks distressed in a photo taken shortly after the event. It actually turned out to his and his mother’s good fortune.  

The elderly Malibu was purchased by R.A. Langheinrich Meteorites, a company that specializes in buying, selling, and brokering meteors.  Who knew that such a business was even possible?  Langheinrich sent the car on a world tour and it was exhibited in museums, scientific expositions, and other venues for years.  Among the places to have hosted the Chevy are France, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan in addition to several U.S. locations. Nearly twenty years later, the car still is occasionally on display.

Hey, my Grandson and his girl friend have a clunker in our driveway that I’d pay a meteor to hit.  Are you listening, Cosmos?

1 comment:

  1. "A meteor hit it!" That's a story I could have used as a teenager. Not sure I could have stuck to it, but it would have been worth a try!