Collector donates space rock to Field Museum

April 20, 2010 4:43:29 AM PDT
Terry Boudreaux said he believes two rocks he found on a Wisconsin farm came from a big meteor that streaked across the Midwest sky last week.

He'll keep one of them. Experts at the Field Museum are looking at the other one.

Most meteorites never make it to the ground because they burn up in the atmosphere so finding one is always a big deal. Boudreaux is a collector who'd never gone on a hunt of his own, but he says as soon as he got that phone call telling him that a meteor had fallen in the area he knew it was time

On Monday the Field Museum's meteorite collection became one specimen richer. Boudreaux handed over one of the two meteorites he and his two sons -- 13-year-old Evan and 17-year-old Christopher-- were able to secure after a meteor struck southwest Wisconsin last Wednesday night.

"I started to collect fireball information, eyewitness reports. I looked at National Weather Service radar, got the trajectories. My kids were up till midnight going, 'Dad can we go, dad can we go?'" said Terry Boudreaux.

After taking four hours to get to Wisconsin and spending many more driving through some 400 miles of farmland and scouring the roads for little black rocks, Terry says he approached a farmer just outside of Livingston, Wisconsin.

"...He said, 'If you see those two chairs over there. I was sitting having a beer with my buddy and the sky exploded above my head and 20 to 30 seconds later a piece hit the shed right there, fell and hit the ground.'"

As it turns out a neighboring farmer brought over another meteorite 30 minutes later. So now terry had two. Experts at the Field Museum wasted no time weighing the one donated to them.

"...It's a 48.5 gram meteorite which is pretty large, given that most are very small. We don't know what kind it is, but we do know that it is a stony meteorite, the most common meteorite," said Jim Holstein, Field Museum Meteoretics collection manager.

With more than 2,200 distinct meteorites, the Field owns the largest non-federal meteorite collection in the world, ranging from smaller specimens like the one donated Monday, to these very rare larger ones.

"We get most of our meteorites through scientific expeditions. We go to Antarctica. We go all over the world," said Lance Grande, Field Museum, head of collections and research.

Boudreaux said giving this latest meteorite to the Field Museum was an obvious choice.

"...Anything I can do to further science. I try to do. I give as much as I can to the Field," said Boudreaux.

Boudreaux tells us the first farmer sold his meteor on the condition that he return to the local school on Wednesday to give a lecture. Boudreaux agreed and raised him one better-- promising to take many specimens from his own collection including ones he has from both the moon and Mars


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