Bob Ward California Meteorite

Rare Meteorite Caused California Fireball, Sonic Boom

A rare meteorite is to blame for a recent fireball seen over California and Nevada. The fireball was seen shooting across the sky this weekend, causing a sonic boom that rattled houses and woke residents from their peaceful Sunday morning sleep.

Robert Ward, an avid meteorite hunter/collector, discovered the first piece of the giant space rock on Tuesday, and told the Associated Press that, “It was just, needless to say, a thrilling moment.”

Ward, who has been collecting meteorites for over 20 years, discovered two meteorite pieces in the Sierra foothills, along the path of the rock, whose path could be seen from Sacramento, California, to Las Vegas.

Ward, who also goes by “AstroBob” explains that this meteorite in particular is special. It is called “CM” (carbonaceous chondrite), and is one of the oldest substances in the known universe, dating back 4 to 5 billion years. Ward gushed that:

“It is one of the oldest things known to man and one of the rarest types of meteorites there is. It contains amino acids and organic compounds that are extremely important to science.”

The two rocks that Bob Ward discovered are suspected to be small parts of a meteorite estimated to weigh 154,300 pounds, and be about the size of a mini-van when it initially entered the atmosphere.

Bill Cooke, a specialist in meteors at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Hjuntsville, Alabama, believes that the rock released a massive amount of energy on entering the atmosphere, equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion (for reference, the Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons).