Earlier this week, the 30th anniversary of the Peekskill Meteorite came to pass. It was mostly uneventful save for a few postings on the local Facebook groups one of which you can find here: Historic Peekskill NY in Pictures. The post is as followed along with a photo taken by former Peekskill Mayor(R), John G Testa:
“Good thing I had my trusty yearbook camera with me on October 9, 1992. 2017 marks 25 years since that famous 4.4-billion-year-old meteorite landed on a car in Peekskill. It hit on Wells Street next to the school district Administration Building, and just around the corner from my house! Only a few hundred feet away as the crow flies. It could have hit someone’s house or worse. That 1980 Chevy Malibu became famous overnight and the meteorite was worth close to $100K! The car sold for $10K and is shown throughout the world. Specimen samples of the meteorite can still be seen being sold on EBay and other sites. A large piece is on display at the national Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.”
Learn more about the car here at it’s website, Meteorite Car.
Michelle Knapp’s 1980′ Chevy Malibu
In the wake of the recent passing of the iconic Pee Wee Herman, the image of stars falling from the heavens serves as a metaphor for the loss of such a Peekskill luminary. There are moments in history when the vastness of space makes an abrupt and dramatic entry into our daily lives, much like the indelible mark left by great personalities on our collective consciousness. One such cosmic event occurred on the evening of October 9, 1992, when the night sky over the Eastern US was suddenly ablaze with the fiery descent of a meteorite. That meteorite, which would later be known as the Peekskill meteorite, holds a unique place in both science and popular culture. Among its many resting places, a fragment resides in the famed Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
The Peekskill meteorite’s entry into the Earth’s atmosphere was not a stealthy one. Numerous witnesses from Washington D.C. to Pennsylvania reported a brilliant green fireball streaking across the sky. But what set this event apart from others was that it was caught on camera – 16 times! This became one of the most photographed meteors of all time.
After traveling through space at a cosmic velocity of 8.8 miles per second, the meteorite crashed into a red Chevrolet Malibu parked in Peekskill, New York at approximately 7:50 pm EDT. The owner, Michelle Knapp, heard a crash and stepped out to find a large, warm rock beneath her damaged car. With the immediate realization of its potential significance, she preserved the rock and the damaged car, both of which would later become iconic artifacts of this event.
The meteorite itself weighed 26.4 pounds (12 kilograms) and was primarily composed of olivine and pyroxene. Such meteorites offer invaluable insights into the conditions and processes that shaped our early solar system. The Peekskill meteorite is estimated to be 4.4 billion years old and small specimens of the Peekskill meteorite sell for approximately $125 per gram.
Peekskill Meteorite at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
The car, accompanied by the main piece of the meteorite which has a weight of 890 grams, resides in the Macovich Collection of Meteorites. You can also find other fragments from this meteorite showcased in Chicago’s Field Museum, the American National History Museum, and the Smithsonian. Notably, the photo referenced above is on display at the Griffith Observatory in LA.
The Peekskill meteorite’s sudden descent from the stars, its cinematic capture, and its eventual resting place like the Griffith Observatory serve as reminders of the universe’s vastness and the serendipitous moments that tie us to the Peekskill and the stars. Until next time…
If you’re thinking about visiting Peekskill, bring your own friends.
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