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Weston: The 200th Anniversary

The Weston meteorite fell on December 14th, 1807 at 6:30am local time in Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA. In fact, Weston was the first recorded fall in the United States. The fireball was described as a large red ball about 1/2 to 3/4 the size of a full moon moving from North to South. Three loud sonic booms along with rumbling, whizzing and roaring were also reported from many witnesses. Many of the witnesses were farmers who were up at that time in the morning tending animals and farm duties. Some said that the animals were startled and extremely frightened of the fall. Some also believed that because the rocks fell from the sky, they must contain valuable silver or gold. So pieces were collected and then pulverized in search of these precious metals which obviously weren't there.

Stones and fragments from the Weston fall fell over an area around 16km (10miles) in length. The Total Known Weight was estimated at 149.7kg and the largest stone, which broke into fragments was 90.7kg. Weston was classified as an Ordinary Chondrite, H4.

At the time, President Thomas Jefferson was in office. Daniel Salmon sent him a letter about the event and a strange stone in his possession. It is said that Jefferson stated, "I would more easily believe that two Yankee professors would lie that that stones would fall from heaven.". While he was very sceptical of the claims these stones fell from the sky, it is now thought that he did not actually say this. In a reply to Salmon in 1808, President Jefferson actually wrote:

"I have duly received your letter of the 8th instant, on the subject of the stone in your possession, supposed meteoric. Its descent from the atmosphere presents so much difficulty as to require careful examination. But I do not know that the most effectual examination could be made by the members of the National Legislature, to whom you have thought of exhibiting it. Some fragments of these stones have been already handed about among them. But those most highly qualified for acting in their stations, are not necessarily supposed most familiar with subjects of natural history; and such of them as have that familiarity, are not in situations here to make the investigation. I should think that an inquiry by some one of our scientific societies, as the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia for example, would be most likely to be directed with such caution and knowledge of the subject, as would inspire a general confidence.

We certainly are not to deny whatever we cannot account for. A thousand phenomena present themselves daily which we cannot explain, but where facts are suggested, bearing no analogy with the laws of nature as yet known to us, their verity needs proofs proportioned to their difficulty. A cautious mind will weigh well the opposition of the phenomenon to everything hitherto observed, the strength of the testimony by which it is supported, and the errors and misconceptions to which even our senses are liable. It may be very difficult to explain how the stone you possess came into the position in which it was found. But is it easier to explain how it got into the clouds from whence it is supposed to have fallen? The actual fact however is the thing to be established, and this I hope will be done by those whose situations and qualifications enable them to do it."

Weston was one of the defining falls which helped people come to the belief that rocks do indeed fall from the sky making Weston one of the most significant meteorite falls in recorded history. This 1.64g crusted fragment is part of the Meteorites Australia Collection (MA.05.0010).

Weston (H4) 1.64g Fragment
Weston (H4) 1.64g Fusion Crusted Fragment.

Enlargement ---> 1000 x 804 (156KB)

Weston (H4) 1.64g Fragment
Weston (H4) 1.64g Fusion Crusted Fragment.

Enlargement ---> 1000 x 794 (197KB)

Weston (H4) 1.64g Fragment
Weston (H4) 1.64g Fusion Crusted Fragment.

Enlargement ---> 1000 x 646 (142KB)

Weston (H4) 1.64g Fragment
Weston (H4) 1.64g Fusion Crusted Fragment.

Enlargement ---> 1000 x 777 (147KB)

Weston (H4) 1.64g Fragment
Weston (H4) 1.64g Fusion Crusted Fragment.

Enlargement ---> 1000 x 1222 (250KB)



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