Daily Archives: January 24, 2010

This is Outer Space! The historic meteor strike of January 18, 2010.



Monday evening, January 18, at 5:38 p.m., I was travelling with Susan Duby, due SW on a trip that would take us to a Philadelphia-area meeting.

A splendid evening twilight surrounded us as we made our way. Most of the sky dome appeared like ombré fabric toned in deep blues, while a wide swath of bright sunset pink draped the barren Appalachian foothills of mid-winter.

We were on the road for only a few minutes when a brilliant neon-red streak zipped through the sky from about 45 degrees above the horizon. Speeding downward just left of the 6 o’clock position, it burned brighter than the most brilliant of fireworks. As it approached the pink-hued zone about 25 degrees above the horizon, the apparition expanded outward into a tear-drop-shaped fireball of searing greenish white. After three or four seconds of tight flaming, it disappeared, perhaps 10 degrees above the horizon.


It turns out that the fireball was a meteor witnessed by hundreds of people along the East Coast. Even more spectacular, it landed and was recovered. Stranger yet, before it ended its cosmic journey through the vastness of our universe, it broke through the office roof of Dr. Frank Ciampi, a general practice physician, in Lorton, Va. and landed in three pieces on the floor. The doctor was in the building at the time!


Well documented by the Baltimore Sun, Fox News, and Space.com this rare event has entered the annals of unusual astronomical events and the specimen has been photographed by the American Museum of Natural History.

As for it’s cosmic origin,

“It went through the roof…through one wall partition and then passed through a particle board ceiling into the floor of an examination room,” said Linda Welzenbach, manager of the meteorite collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This confirms the object was indeed a meteorite from outer space.


Of course, now that the great meteor of January 2010 has landed on Earth, it is still in space. Just because we don’t typically include…

Solar System
Milky Way

…on our mailing labels, doesn’t mean they are not true parts of our home address.


The fireball sighting reminded me it is crucial to having a clear sense of ourselves and our actual environment, that we take the time to look up and notice – as there is no ceiling above our heads – we are now, always were, and will always be…in outer space!


First Image: Tullio DeSantis, 2010. Digital Reconstruction of meteor observed by Tullio DeSantis and Susan Duby on January 18, 2010.
Second Image: Linda Welzenbach/Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 2010. Image of meteor that fell from the sky into a doctor’s office in Virgina Jan. 18, 2010.
Check back for updates to this story:
Google News Updates Page on the meteor of January 18, 2010
Meteor event as reported in The Washington Post
Update from Frank Roylance’s blog at the Baltimore Sun
Original Baltimore Sun Maryland Weather blog story with over 100 reported sightings

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