On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1965, the villagers of Barwell, in Leicester (pronounced “Less-ta”) were host to the largest meteorite to strike Britain, a 100 lb chunk of space rock that burst into pieces just prior to striking. The original chunk has been described as having been roughly the size of a turkey.
A meteor is the visible flash made by what had been an asteroid – a rocky, subplanetary object moving through space, but which has entered the atmosphere. Meteorites are the actual rocky objects that land on Earth. Like over 86% of all witnessed meteorite strikes, the Barwell meteorite is a chondrite. Chondrites are formed from the slow accretion of dust and other small particles, typically without any significant contribution from heat. They are primarily silicon, with abundant nickel and iron.
While most meteorites are tiny, ranging from the size of dust-mote to the size of a pea, there are enough of them that they contribute quite a bit of mass to the Earth – NASA estimates from 37,000 to 78,000 tons each year.
A piece of the meteorite was recently sold for eight thousand pounds.
To this day, no one can say whether the people of Leicester had been naughty or nice.
by Todd Jackson