Mini-meteorite nearly big hit

Last updated 05:00 19/05/2013
Lloyd Ganley with a meteorite fragment
SPACE INVADER: Lloyd Ganley with the meteorite fragment thought to be a piece of Halley’s Comet

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Bay of  Plenty man Lloyd Ganley was standing outside his garage having a chat to his neighbour when "old E T came to visit".

He was almost hit in the head by an ancient meteorite that whistled past him, sailed through the open roller door of the garage, and smashed into some buckets.

"It was like, ‘What the f... was that?' " Ganley said yesterday from his home in rural Whakamarama, west of Tauranga. "I thought it might have been someone fired a rifle down the valley, a bit of a wayward shot.

"A few days later I cleared out the garage and carefully looked through things, I was expecting to find a spent bullet and I found this."

"This" was a pea-sized piece of material that was like nothing he'd seen before. "It was quite strange, it was a different-looking rock."

Ganley took the object to local geologist Andrew Hollis, who "got quite excited about it and did some investigating and figured out what it was".

The rock was magnetic and dense, and had been subjected to heat, and Hollis concluded it was a meteorite.

It was most likely from a meteorite shower called Eta Aquarid which passed Earth between May 5 and 9, and is a remnant of a Halley's Comet trail left in space 2000 years ago.

Hollis said: "Evidence suggests that because we were going through that particular meteor storm, and the best time for viewing was in the morning of that day, it seems likely it's part of the same debris field."

He said the discovery was "pretty cool".

"I've seen meteorites before but to have one that someone's watched land is pretty special, especially in New Zealand.

"It's not just some bit of space junk . . . "

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- Sunday Star Times

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