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The Alfianello Meteorite


SIGNOR DENZA, Director-General of the Italian Meteorological Association, sends us an account of the remarkable aerolite which fell in the province of Brescia on February 16, and to which we referred last week. On that date, at 2.43 p.m. local time, a strong detonation was heard in many places of the province of Brescia and even in the neighbouring provinces of Cremona, Verona, Mantua, Placenza, and Parma. The detonation was quite awful in the commune of Alfianello, in the district of Verolanuova, Brescia. This was found to be caused by a nieteorite which exploded a few hundred yards above Alfianello. A peasant saw it fall in the direction of N.E. to S.W., or, more exactly, N.N.E. to S.S.W., at a distance of about 150 yards. When the meteoric mass fell to the earth, it produced on the ground, in consequence of the transmission of the shock, a movement similar to that of an earthquake, which was felt in the surrounding districts; the telegraph wires oscillated and window frames shook. Before the meteorite fell a confused commotion was seen in the sky, and immediately after a prolonged noise was heard similar to that of a tram moving rapidly along the rails. No light was seen; but the meteor must have been accompanied, as usual, by a light vapour, produced by the volatilisation of the substance melted at the surface; for some of those who saw it fall compared it to a chimney falling from the sky, and surmounted byawreath of smoke. The meteorite fell in a field about 300 yards south-west of Alfianello. It penetrated the ground obliquely, nearly in the same direction as it was seen moving in the air, from east to west, sinking to the depth of about a yard, deducting the height of the meteoric mass. The peasants who saw it fall and who were the first to touch it, found it somewhat hot. The meteorite fell entire, but unfortunately was soon broken to pieces and carried away by the crowd who gathered to see the strange sight. The form was ovoid, but a little flattened at the centre; the under part was broad and convex, presenting the hrm of a cauldron; the upper part was truncated. The surface was covered with the usual blackish crust, and studded with small concavities, partly separate, partly grouped together.

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The Alfianello Meteorite . Nature 27, 511 (1883).

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