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UPDATE: Mystery in the Sky

UPDATED Thursday, November 25, 2010 --- 10:00 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Fragments of the meteorite that brightened the skies of Wisconsin and parts of Iowa on April 14 have become part of the permanent collection of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Geology Museum.

The meteorite was named after Mifflin Township by the Meteoritical Society in August after the group classified it as an ordinary chondrite meteorite. Scientists believe was originally part of an asteroid fragment that separated 470 million years ago between Mars and Jupiter.

Eight pieces of the Mifflin Meteorite are on display at the UW Geology Museum. Five are on loan and three are part of the museum's permanent collection. Six of the 14 meteorites known to have landed in Wisconsin are on display as part of the exhibit.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 1, 2010 --- 3:30 p.m.

CHICAGO (AP) -- A meteorite that fell in Wisconsin earlier this year now has a name: Mifflin.

The Field Museum in Chicago said Wednesday that the Meteoritical Society named the meteorite after Mifflin Township, where it fell on April 14. The group also has classified it as an ordinary chondrite meteorite.

Pieces of the meteorite are on display at the Chicago museum. The museum also has received four pieces as a donation from a meteorite collector. Scientists from Washington, Chicago and Wisconsin have analyzed and classified meteorite pieces.

Scientists say that analysis tells them the meteorite originally came from an asteroid fragment that separated from the main asteroid 470 million years ago between the planets of Mars and Jupiter.

Online: http://www.fieldmuseum.org

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 --- 5:30 p.m.

The flash may be a week old but meteorite hunters are still flooding our area looking to cash in.

Today Field Museum geologists and meteorite hunters spoke to students at Iowa-Grant School between their own searches.

They explained what happened and told kids they were in the rock field, meaning they may be able to find meteor pieces of their own.

Amazingly a few minutes after the presentation when the kids went out for recess a young boy found one of the biggest pieces discovered to this point.

The professionals estimate it could be worth as much as 1-thousand dollars. Many immediately got on the phone to tell colleagues, amazed by what a young child found right under their noses.

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 20, 2010 --- 11:55 a.m.

Click the Video Link ABOVE to see the meteorite fragments on display at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Geology Museum.

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UPDATED Monday, April 19, 2010 --- 12:50 p.m.

Press Release:

MADISON - At least five pieces of the meteorite that fell in southwestern Wisconsin last week will be on display at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Geology Museum for public viewing Tuesday, April 20 through this weekend.

Each piece is approximately the size of an unshelled peanut and is partially covered with a thin "fusion crust" of dark material that forms when a meteor heats up as it passes through Earth's atmosphere.

The museum will have special extended hours this week and weekend for seeing the meteorites and other exhibits: Tuesday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday noon-4 p.m.

"We want to share this piece of Wisconsin history with as many people as possible before we return the pieces to their owners," says Brooke Norsted, assistant director of the museum.

The museum also has pieces of five of the 12 previous known meteorite falls in Wisconsin.

Sunday, April 25, is the Geology Museum's annual open house, with special activities for the whole family including "make-a-quake" and geology bingo. At 2 p.m., geophysics professor Harold Tobin will talk about what causes earthquakes and some of the recent quakes around the world.

For maps and parking information, see http://www.geology.wisc.edu/~museum/visit.html.

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UPDATED Saturday, April 17, 2010 --- 8:30 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Scientists say an apparent fragment from a meteor that lit up Midwestern skies this week has been recovered in southwestern Wisconsin.

The fragment weighs 0.3 pounds and is about the size of an unshelled peanut. The meteor had streaked across the sky about 10 p.m. Wednesday and was visible from southern Wisconsin and northern Iowa to central Missouri.

University of Wisconsin geology professor John Valley says fragment has a so-called fusion crust. The paper-thin blackened coating results when a meteor superheats as it speeds through the atmosphere.

Valley says the man who found the fragment lent it to university scientists for a two-hour analysis.

Based on preliminary tests, the meteor appears to have come from the vast asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

On the Net:
UW-Madison geology museum:
http://www.geology.wisc.edu/~museum/

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, April 16, 2010 --- 5:00 p.m.

Click on the PHOTOS tab above to see pictures of the meteorite that was recovered in southwestern Wisconsin.

Press Release from the University of Wisconsin:

MADISON - Researchers in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Geoscience had the opportunity Friday morning to analyze a rock fragment they believe is from the meteor that blazed through the skies over parts of Wisconsin and Iowa Wednesday night.

The rock measures approximately 2 inches by 3/4 of an inch and weighs 7.5 grams. It contains gray, white, and reddish minerals and one side is covered by a thin "fusion crust" of darker material that forms when a meteor heats up as it passes through Earth's atmosphere. It was found around 8:30 a.m. Thursday by a farmer west of Madison. The fragment had hit the roof of his shed.

Though the rock was only at the university for a short time, UW-Madison meteorite experts Noriko Kita and Takayuki Ushikubo used a scanning electron microscope and X-ray spectrometer to begin to analyze the surface mineral composition of the rock. They identified the presence of magnesium, iron, and silica-containing compounds, including the common minerals olivine and pyroxene. They also found iron-nickel metal and iron sulfide, which are often seen in primitive meteorites.

The scientists hope to get the opportunity to conduct more detailed studies of fragments of the meteor. Such analyses may be able to tell them about the composition of the solar system and processes that shaped the early Earth. Anyone finding pieces of the meteorite are asked to bring them to the UW-Madison Geology Museum at 1215 W. Dayton St. in Madison.

"Until we look at more samples and are able to take some measurements, we won't know what kind of meteorite it is," says Kita, director of the department's Ion Microprobe Laboratory. UW-Madison has some of the world's most sensitive analytical equipment for studying such material.

Because the piece they studied only has fusion crust on one side, it is almost certain there are more pieces of the meteorite scattered across the landscape of southern Wisconsin, says UW-Madison geoscience professor John Valley. "If the meteorite had broken up high in the atmosphere it would have developed a fusion crust that completely covered the exterior. This doesn't have that, so it broke up low enough that I'd have to say more of it hit the ground," he says.

It is extremely unusual to identify pieces from known meteorite falls, says UW-Madison Geology Museum director Richard Slaughter. The museum has pieces of seven of the 12 previous known meteorite falls in Wisconsin, most of which are more than 50 years old.

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UPDATED Friday, April 16, 2010 --- 3:40 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A southwestern Wisconsin man has apparently recovered a fragment from the meteor that lit up Midwestern skies earlier this week.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say the man who doesn't want to be identified lent them the rock for two hours Friday morning.

Geology professor John Valley says the fragment is about the size of an unshelled peanut. He says it seems to be legitimate because it's covered with the distinctive blackened crust created when a meteor superheats in the Earth's atmosphere.

Scientists did some superficial analyses Friday but won't be to do chemical tests unless they can get access to that fragment or others that may be found.

Valley says the man found the fragment after it hit the roof of his home west of Dodgeville Wednesday night.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, April 16, 2010 --- 1:20 p.m.

Meteorites confirmed near Madison
By NBC15's News Partner 1310 WIBA

“It was more than just a meteor in the sky Wednesday night.” Those words today from Professor John Valley of the UW's Geo Science Department.

He called WIBA News this afternoon to tell us the exciting news, "We can confirm that they are meteorites, and that samples have been located in southwestern Wisconsin. We have been studying a sample here at UW-Madison that was brought in by a landowner west of Madison."

So what does it look like?

"The piece we have is very small, about the size of a peanut, and there might be smaller or bigger pieces. On the outside it is a dull, mat black finish, which is the fusion crust from when it became very hot while falling through the atmosphere." On the inside you'll find crystals about the size of a pea that are snow white, in a matrix that is gray.

Valley has been with the UW for 28 years and tells WIBA News, he's never seen a real meteorite, until now.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 15, 2010

NEW VIDEO from the Portage Police Department. Click on the VIDEO LINK ABOVE. (Tip: Go in :18 to see the meteor)

Tim Beckman, Deputy Sheriff in Howard County Iowa, captured video from his camera mounted inside his vehicle. Click on the video link ABOVE (titled: Mystery In The Sky) to watch this video.

Also, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences has a series of time lapse photos of the event as seen from Madison. Click on the RELATED LINKS section below the comment section.

Click HERE to submit your video and pictures.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 15 --- 6:15 p.m.

PRESS RELEASE:
UW-MADISON GEOSCIENCE DEPARTMENT SEEKS METEOR FRAGMENTS

MADISON - Researchers in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Geoscience are making a plea for anyone finding pieces of the meteorite that blazed through the skies of southern Wisconsin last night (Thursday April 14) to bring them to the department for possible analysis.

It is possible there may be kilograms of meteorite scattered across the landscape of southern Wisconsin, says noted geochemist John Valley. "There are all sorts of things that might be learned from fresh material and it is time sensitive," he says, explaining that short-lived radioactive elements are often formed when meteorites fall through the Earth's atmosphere.

UW-Madison, Valley says, boasts some of the world's most sensitive analytical equipment for studying such material. He notes that there are only about a dozen known meteorites from Wisconsin.

"Until we look at samples and are able to take some measurements, we won't know what kind of meteorite it is," says Noriko Kita, an expert on meteorites and director of the department's Ion Microprobe Laboratory.

Pieces of the meteorite can be brought to the UW Geology Museum at 1215 W. Dayton St., Madison. Additional information about meteorites can be found on the museum's webpage at http://www.geology.wisc.edu/~museum/meteorite.html.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 15 --- 4:45 p.m.
Script for NBC15 News at 6:00 p.m.
Reporter: Chris Papst

A bright light in the sky has attracted a lot of gossip in southwestern Wisconsin.

"The big news is the meteor last night," said Jody Myers of Jody's Roadhouse in Blue River.

If there were ever a "talk of the town" in Blue River, this is it.

"Just about everyone who's come in today has commented about it," added Myers.

Wednesday night around 10:15 a meteor entered the earth's atmosphere high above southwestern Wisconsin, and for just about 15 seconds turned night into day. As much as they would have liked to, no one in Jody's Roadhouse Bar saw anything.

But, Kim Kienitz, of Avoca, did. She and a friend were driving home when something high in the darkness caught their eye. Kienitz said the entire sky lit up a lime green. Then a great boom shook everything.

"When we looked up the bright ball was sparking behind it and it went right past us," said Kienitz.

She said the blast of the meteor breaking the sound barrier was so powerful her son at home thought it was an earthquake. He couldn't see what was happening outside.

Said Kienitz, "I guess I was just one of the lucky ones that was in the right place at the right time."

Back at Jody's Roadhouse Walt Koehnlein and his brother-n-law just filled up on burgers and drink, and now their heading out to find that space rock.

"We're going to see if we can find some of that meteor rock and take it to the museum in Milwaukee," said Koehnlein. "It pretty exciting for a little rural area like this, you know."

As of last word, Koehnlein and his brother-n-law hadn't found the space rock.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 15, 2010 --- 12:15 p.m.

Soaring meteor lights up skies across the Midwest

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Authorities were flooded with curious callers after a meteor streaking across the Midwestern sky looked like a huge fireball.

National Weather Service offices in La Crosse, Wis., Des Moines, Iowa, and Kansas City, Mo., received numerous reports of the fireball from law enforcement officials and the public.

Witnesses say the meteor lit the sky about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday. Jeff Boyle says he was on his way home from work in Waukesha when he saw a ball in the sky with a huge tail that was as bright as the sun.

Forecasters say a meteor shower called Gamma Virginids began April 4 and is expected to last to April 21 with peak activity Wednesday and Thursday. But they couldn't immediately confirm if the Midwest meteor was part of that shower.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 15, 2010 --- 10:00 a.m.

Update from the National Weather Service, Quad Cities IA/IL:

Just after 10 pm CDT Wednesday evening April 14th, a fireball or very bright meteor was observed streaking across the sky. The fireball was seen over the northern sky, moving from west to east. Well before it reached the horizon, it broke up into smaller pieces and was lost from sight.

The fireball was seen across Northern Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Southern Wisconsin. Several reports of a prolonged sonic boom were received from areas north of Highway 20, along with shaking of homes, trees and various other objects including wind chimes.

As of late Wednesday evening, it is unknown whether any portion of this meteorite hit the ground.

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UPDATED Thursday, April 15, 2010 --- 3:45 a.m.

Update from the National Weather Service:
Possible Meteor Visible Across Southern Wisconsin

Many reports of a bright fireball have been flooding county sheriff dispatch centers across the southern half of Wisconsin tonight.

The fireball was visible between 10:00 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.

National Weather Service Offices in La Crosse, Davenport, and Des Moines Iowa, as well as St. Louis and Kansas City Missouri, have received numerous reports of a fireball from law enforcement officials and the public around the same time as the reports in our county warning area (the Madison area).

While no official determination has been made of what caused the fireball, space debris, meteor, etc -- there is a meteor shower currently occurring called the Gamma Virginids. It began April 4th and is expected to last through April 21rst with the peak activity April 14th and 15th. A large meteorite could have caused the brilliant fireball that has been reported.

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UPDATED Wednesday, April 14, 2010 --- 11:31 p.m.

Our NBC affiliate Kare 11 out of Minneapolis issued the following report:

The Federal Aviation Administration is reporting meteor showers from Washington County to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 --- 10:47 p.m.

Many NBC15 viewers from across southern Wisconsin have called in to report a bright light, flash, or series of lights in the sky. They also report a sonic boom-like noise. The reports started coming in around 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night.

Dane County Dispatch says they have also gotten many calls, and a dispatcher even saw it himself. Dispatchers have talked with Air Traffic Control, who say there are no reports of missing aircraft.

A Dane Co. Regional Airport spokesperson says pilots from aircraft saw something they believed to be a meteor, but this is not confirmed.

If you saw the light, leave a comment below. If you have any pictures, send them to news@nbc15.com

Here's just some of what our viewers have been saying:

"I saw a big ball of sparks moving north to south - sparks were flying! It was weird looking!"
-Annie in Madison

"I felt like the ground was rumbling underneath and I thought something had blown up. It was really scary. It was a loud blasting noise."
-Tracy in Platteville

"We were sitting outside and it was huge! It was a huge, green fireball. It lit up the whole sky. It looked like it was going to land in Cottage Grove. You could almost read the paper it was so light."
-Kevin in Sun Prairie

Will in Blue Mounds reports the sky "instantly turned bright, like daylight."


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
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