'Space rock' found in backyard impact crater in Wainuiomata, near Wellington
JOHN WEEKES AND PAUL MITCHELL
An outer space object screamed across the sky - but nobody in Wainuiomata was there to hear or see it.
At least that's one theory after a strange rock appeared in Joyce Lockyer's garden in the suburb of Lower Hutt, outside Wellington.
Joyce and husband Graeme returned from holiday this week to find the dark grey rock in their garden.
It appeared to have landed with enough force to cause a miniature impact crater, and what looked like scorch marks around it.
"It's obviously landed from a great height," Lockyer said.
The rock manifested in a part of the garden the couple often spent time in.
"Fortunately we weren't home and it didn't land on somebody's head, which might have been a bit nasty."
The rock was about 7 or 8 inches across and weighed 2.4kg, Lockyer said.
"It looks very pumice-y but it is extremely heavy."
She wondered if it was an "object from outer space."
The rock was there when the Lockyers arrived back in the middle of the week, before the bright lights were seen across New Zealand on Friday night, which signalled the peak of the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower.
The shower is usually active between April 19 and May 28, and is one of two meteor showers created by dust debris from Halley's Comet as it orbits the Sun. The other meteor shower is the Orionoid.
The peak hourly rate for meteors in the Aquarid shower was 60 on May 5 and May 6.
Wellington Astronomical Society president Antony Gomez said if the Lockyear's unidentified falling object was a meteorite, it was quite likely to be a piece of Halley's Comet.
Gomez said the meteor shower was mostly dust and tiny pebbles hitting the atmosphere at such incredible speed we see them as bursts of light streaking across the sky.
"To get a larger hunk of rock surviving all the way down to Earth is rare, and it's even rarer for them to land in a populated area, but it does happen."
If it was a meteor, there was a chance it had hung around in space for millions of years and that the Earth just happened to cross its path at the same time it was crossing through Halley's trail.
But it would be much more likely to have broken off from the comet.
IT'S NOT ACTUALLY A METEORITE IF...
* It has cavities inside it (surface cavities due to weathering are possible).
* It has external cavities lined with crystals.
* It is about as dense as average rocks. If you're in any doubt, it isn't a meteorite.
* It is metallic but non-magnetic. The magnet has to stick to the underside without aid. If you think it might be magnetic, it isn't. If it's magnetic, you won't have any doubt.
* It is light in colour.
* It was obviously flattened against some surface.
* It has terrestrial objects embedded within it.
* It has layers.
* It has veins.
- Sunday Star Times