25 April 2010

That's no "meteorite" on the Israeli beach

The BBC has a video [at the link - I can't embed] of an object found burning on the beach near Tel Aviv.  They note it was "thought to be a fragment of a meteorite" and has now been taken away to be examined.

When someone finds a strange object burning on the ground in Israel, I don't think "meteorite" should leap to the top of the differential diagnosis.  And I thought I remembered reading somewhere that meteorites were actually cold when they landed, not hot.  Found this at Cornell's Curious About Astronomy website:
Unfortunately, there really aren't very many meteors that are picked up directly after they've fallen, so it's hard to do good statistics on which ones are hot or cold. So far it seems that some of each have been found. For example, this FAQ lists reports of meteorites (compiled by Don Blakeslee of Wichita State University) that have been touched soon after they fell, and some people reported that the rock was hot, some that it was warm, and some that there was frost on the outside! These reports are all of a qualitative nature, usually based on the testimony of a small number of people.
More at the link.

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