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Feb. 19, 2008: Pcific Northwest Experiences Tunguska-Style "Atmospheric Meteorite Explosion."

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02/27/2008 08:32 AM
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Feb. 19, 2008: Pcific Northwest Experiences Tunguska-Style "Atmospheric Meteorite Explosion."
Massive Aerial Meteorite Explosion Over The Northwestern US Saturday, 23. February 2008, 08:13:45

Space, News

The U.S. Pacific Northwest has just experienced an atmospheric meteorite explosion on Tuesday morning. Richard Pugh, a scientist at the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory of Portland State University in Oregon,said that the lucky ones could find marble to basketball size space rocks in eastern Oregon. The event was witnessed by 40-50 persons. The sky explosion, falling on an east-southeast direction, took place around 5:30 a.m. PT and it was observed over Washington State.

"The light was bright enough to wake up people even though the shades were pulled, and then the sonic boom hit, rattling windows and making the dust fly, and the dogs crawled under the bed. And following the heavy boom, in a number of cases we have rumbling a few minutes later. This kind of sound effect usually indicates there are rocks on the ground," Pugh told National Geographic News.

"Descriptions of the explosion suggest the meteor was rocky and likely sprayed debris over several square miles," he added.
Rock fragments coming from the explosion could be found in the prairie outside the town of Pendleton, Oregon, or in the neighboring Blue Mountains.

"Given the likely small size of any impacting fragments in a rural area, chances of recovery are slim. Our hope is that somebody got a rock through a barn roof out there somewhere. An impact site may resemble a divot on a golf course. The rocks could penetrate several inches in wet ground," said Pugh.

Pugh's team is going to search, in the next weeks, the area of potential impact and the researchers will also try to involve local people in this. Eyewitnesses can contact the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory at (503) 287-6733.

"A private single-engine jet called in a sighting of the fireball Tuesday morning," Mike Fergus, a spokesperson with the Federal Aviation Administration in Seattle, Washington, told National Geographic News.

The bright flash was also seen by other pilots.

"But nobody had seen the meteor body itself, nor the impact," said Fergus.

"Fireball sightings are relatively common in the Pacific Northwest, usually several times a year," said Pugh.

But this impact was remarkable through its size.

"This one was just exceedingly bright and produced an awful lot of noise," said Pugh.
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2/26/2008 10:38:00 AM Email this article Print this article
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For more information, contact Library Director Jo Cowling at 541-962-1339 or LEO director Lyn Craig at 541-763-2355.

The PSU Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory can be reached at 503-725-3372 or [link to meteorites.pdx.edu.]

Meteorite watch
Residents of northeast Oregon and particularly from Wallowa and Union counties are asked to be on the lookout for a stream of meteorites that fell from the Feb. 19 fireball as it blew apart over northeast Oregon early that morning.

More than 100 calls about the fireball and the sonic booms it caused have come in to the meteorite lab. Many observers reported a stream of sparks behind the fireball before it blasted apart in the early morning sky. The fireball was seen over five U.S. states and British Columbia, according to meteorite scientist Dick Pugh.

"We'd really like to hear from anyone who saw it, and particularly from the Enterprise area, as that's where sonic booms were heard clearly. Surprisingly, we haven't had any calls from there yet," Pugh said.

According to Pugh, teams of scientists at Calgary and in Poland are conducting research about the fireball event in northeast Oregon.

Pugh invited residents in the area to be on the lookout for roof holes, disturbed sod, or anything that looks as if it could have been hit by something falling from the sky. Residents are invited to bring any unusual rocks to a program Pugh is offering in La Grande, Monday, March 3 at 7 p.m. in the children's area of the F. Maxine & Thomas W. Cook Memorial Library, 2006 Fourth Ave. in La Grande.

At the program Pugh will discuss the locally seen fireball and will give an audio-visual presentation on meteorites of all types.

Pugh will also bring $15,000 worth of meteorites for the public to pick up and handle, so they get an idea of exactly what they should be looking for. The program is free and open to all ages.

The program will be held Monday, March 3 at 7 p.m.
[link to www.wallowacountychieftain.info]