Wednesday, August 21, 2019

1983 Maryville, Tennessee fall

At approximately 04:15 local time on January 28, 1983, an L6 chondrite fell from the sky and landed in the town of Maryville, Tennessee. A single 1.4kg stone was recovered after being found by a local resident who found it in her garden the morning after the fireball was seen in the area. I live a short drive from the spot of this fall and I recently did some research on the local media reports about the fall. I ran across an interesting aspect of the fall, which reflects the political atmosphere of the day.

According to local news reports, many residents feared that the “skyrock” was really a radioactive piece of a Soviet satellite that had fallen from orbit. One article from the January 31, 1983 edition of the Knox News-Sentinel showcases a large photo of a Civil Air Patrol member testing the meteorite with a period Civil Defense Geiger counter. The scenario seems amusingly absurd to me in today. but 36 years ago the world - along with peoples understanding of meteorite science - was a very different place. 

Here is that photo with the accompanying headline. Enjoy!

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