What’s It Like to Be Struck by a Meteorite?
The Earth is pelted by about 500 meteorites every year, but only once in recorded history has one of those chunks of space rock struck a person. It happened on November 30, 1954 in Sylacauga, Alabama.
Ann Hodges, who was 34 years old at the time, was enjoying an afternoon nap when a roughly 8.5-pound (3.85-kg) meteorite came hurtling through her home's roof, slamming into her radio and ricocheting into her. The rock was estimated to have been traveling through space for 4.5 billion years before arriving in Alabama.
Remarkably, Hodges survived the incident relatively unscathed, only suffering a large bruise to her side, and the event made her something of a star. Life magazine published a photo of her and her damaged house under the title "A Big Bruiser from the Sky."
Michael Reynolds, a Florida State College astronomer, called the odds of being hit by a meteorite, well, astronomical. "You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time," he told National Geographic.
- Some of the meteor showers that we can see on an annual basis have been occurring for 100 years or more.
- The ionization of molecules causes the yellow, green, or red "tails" that often accompany meteors.
- The largest meteorite ever discovered is the 119,000-pound (54,000-kg) Hoba meteorite in Namibia.
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