UPDATED AND CORRECTED/JAN 2016
A 4.5 billion year old meteorite weighing 1.7 kilograms was discovered in a dried-up lake in southern Australia. Its older than the Earth.
*The chances of you or your house being struck by a meteorite are very small but it does happen from time to time. Estimates vary but ‘Halliday et al (1985) estimate that one person will be struck by a meteorite somewhere in the world once in nine years and that sixteen buildings per year could receive some damage from meteorites which weigh at least 500 grams.’ [See Spratt below]
'We got the roof tiler round and he was astounded,' said Martine Comette (left) ‘An egg-sized meteorite believed to be 4.57 billion years old smashed through the roof of the Comette family home on the outskirts of Paris some time over the northern summer.
The rock, blackened by its journey through Earth's atmosphere, remained buried in the roof insulation, until Hugo's mother Martine noticed the roof was leaking and called out for someone to fix it. The roofer took one look at the broken tile and told the Comettes that whatever had smashed their roof tile must have come from the sky. ''It would have had to be Superman to break a tile in this way,'' he said. It was only then that the meteorite, weighing 88 grams, was discovered.‘
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/meteorite-rocks-house-of-comette-20111011-1lj1l.html#ixzz1aWBbSRw2
In ‘The Book of Curious Facts’ (published by Collins & Brown in 1993) I recorded the following fascinating story:
‘It is likely that more actuaries live and work in the area around Hartford, Connecticut, where the giant US insurance business is centered, than anywhere else in the world.
(Actuaries calculate the statistical risks and premiums for all kinds of accidents, injuries and disasters on behalf of the insurance industry.)
Wethersfield is a small Connecticut town of 26,000 people, and it has been struck by meteorites twice in 11 years.
In April 1971 a 121/2-ounce (0.3-kg) meteorite struck a house, crashing through the roof and becoming embedded in the ceiling of the living room.
Then on 8 November 1982, a 6lb (2.7-kg) meteorite tore into another house while its owners were watching M*A*S*H on television. Travelling at 300 mph (483 km/h), it burst through the roof, an upstairs closet, and the living-room ceiling, hit the floor, bounced off at an angle into the dining room, ricocheted off the ceiling and finally rolled under the dining-room table.
The odds against two meteorites striking houses in the same town is incalculable.
[See Spratt below who says: ‘The fact that both objects penetrated the roofs of buildings within a few blocks of each other is rather coincidental. The odds against this happening at almost the same geographical location but at different times (11 years) are rather high’]
In the whole of recorded history, fewer than a dozen houses are known to have been struck. Only one city, Honolulu, is known to have been struck twice by meteorites (in 1825 and 1949) but no houses were hit on either occasion.
On 7 April 1990, a meteorite 10 inches (25 cms) across hit a house in the Dutch town of Enschede, shattering roofing tiles, penetrating 4 inches (10 cms) of insulating material, and breaking into fragments in an upstairs bedroom.’
My estimate of a dozen houses is certainly wrong. According to discovery.com there have been 57 recorded strikes by meteorites on human structures in the 20th century. This also is incorrect.
The best list I have come across is the ‘Chronological Listing of Meteorites That Have Struck Humans, Animals and Man-Made Objects (HAMs)’ on The International Meteorite Collectors Association Inc website. This was originally compiled by Walter Branch Ph.D and updated by Ken Newton, who writes that list is not complete and is constantly “under construction”. This list, which dates back to 861 AD, records 110 Objects Hit, 14 Humans hit and 6 Animals hit. It records more than 57 human structures hit by meteorites since the mid 1960s.
The most extensive and carefully sourced boss article on the subject is: ‘Possible Hazards of Meteorite Falls by Christopher E. Spratt [The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada]. His list has 61 structures hit from 1790-1990
See also: 'Some Interesting Meteorite Falls of the Last Two Centuries', which dates back to 1807. It is on the site of the International Comet Quarterly at Harvard University]
According to discovery.com: ‘The first recorded instance of a meteorite striking a person was in Sylacuaga, Alabama on November 30, 1954, when a large meteorite crashed through the roof of one Ann Hodges -- who was just napping on the sofa -- bounced off her radio and struck her on the hip and hand. Hard. She was badly bruised, and to add insult to injury, she was renting the house. Her landlady sued for possession of the offending rock, in hopes of auctioning it off to pay for the damage to the house.
According to the Decatur Daily: ‘Ann Hodges never fully recovered from the incident that put a grapefruit-sized bruise on her left hip and left permanent emotional scars. She died of kidney failure in 1972 at a Sylacauga nursing home. ‘
According to photographer Regine Petersen [see below] Ann Elizabeth Hodges was 34 at the time of the incident and lived in Oak Grove. The meteorite weighed 8 1/2lbs. Her landlady was called Birdie Guy. Hodges won the case but failed to sell the meteorite which was later donated to the Alabama Museum of Natural History. Ann and her husband Eugene Hulitt Hodges later divorced, citing stress over the meteorite as one of the causes.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have found the following recent incidents, presented in reverse chronological order.
August 13, 2011. Meteorite hits California House Meteorite causes 4.5- 6 foot impact zone in roof of suburban house, causing thousands of dollars of damage.
9 March 2009: A 297 gram meteorite arrived in loud fashion with a sound a neighbour described as a sonic boom. It then tore a hole in the roof of a home in Cartersville, Georgia, before crashing through the ceiling and ending its cosmic journey on a bedroom floor. The house was unoccupied at the time.
In 2009, Wired reported that a German teenage boy was hit on the hand by a meteorite while walking home from school. He described seeing a large ball of light, then felt a pain in his hand, followed by "an enormous bang like a crash of thunder," telling the Daily Telegraph that "my ears were ringing for hours afterwards." The meteorite was large enough to leave a foot-wide crater in the ground.
The German photographer Regine Petersen did a project on meteorites and people who have found them. See: http://www.reginepetersen.com/stars_fell_on_alabama.php. I sent her a copy of this post and she asked me to correct the story above: 'The story of the German boy being hit by a meteorite in 2009 turned out to have been a scam. It happens often, people claim to have been hit or to have found a meteorite to get mentioned in the press. Often there is no follow up on the story and the
initial article gets spread.'
Many other reports have proved to be hoaxes. See long list here: http://meteorite-identification.com/news1.html
11 Jan 2007: A Meteorite lands in a N. J. Bathroom
A hole in the roof, a bathroom full of debris and a strange, silvery rock near the toilet — the Nageswaran family soon realized they needed an astronomer, not a contractor, to fully explain what damaged their house. Scientists determined it was a meteorite that crashed through the roof of their central New Jersey home more than a week ago.
12 June 2004: A 1.3kg meteorite plummeted through the tiled roof of Phil and Brenda Archer's home in Ellerslie, a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. "I was in the kitchen doing breakfast and there was this almighty explosion," said Brenda Archer. "It was like a bomb had gone off. I couldn't see anything, there was just dust. I thought something had exploded in the ceiling. Phil saw a stone under the computer and it was hot to touch." The rock hit her leather couch and bounced back up to the ceiling before rolling under the computer. The Archers' one-year-old grandson Luca was playing nearby just minutes before the impact. "He must have a guardian angel," she said.Brenda Archer and the meteorite. Photo: David White/Sunday Star-Times
Oct 9 1992:Wired also has this story about a meteorite that nailed a parked car in Peekskill, New York. The meteorite fragment which hit the car weighed 12kg on impact and according to the article was moving a shade over 10,000 km/h when it hit the car. The car doesn’t look too bad in the pic, but apparently it was totalled. [Source: http://alistairpott.com/2007/10/09/today- in-1992-meteorite-hits-a-parked-car/