The Sciences

Ice from the skies!

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitOct 22, 2008 6:00 PM


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A woman in York County, Pennsylvania had a rude awakening last night: a six pound chunk of ice fell through her roof and smacked her on the head. It was reported on the local news, and they've posted a video. It doesn't look like hail. Given the amount and size, I'm thinking it's simply ice from an airplane, maybe some buildup on a wing that fell off. However, in the news segment, the woman and her husband speculate it might be a meteorite. I really doubt that. Really really. Ice is extremely fragile, and wouldn't hit intact like that; it would break up or melt away long before it could hit the ground. In general, something that fragile would start off big, like school bus sized, then break up on its way down, showering down hundreds of pieces over a large area. However, the news report doesn't mention any other such events. Also, the ice looks fairly homogeneous, and not mixed up with rock. I'd expect a space traveler to be a bit more heterogeneous, though it's maybe not out of the question. So all in all, I think they had an interesting event, but not an extraterrestrial one. I'm glad they saved some pieces; they're being sent to a lab at York University for analysis. I'd recommend that anyway, but I strongly suspect the verdict will return a terrestrial origin for the night visitor. Oh, one more thing: the ice fell through the roof and hit the woman on the head in a glancing blow. She's fortunate it didn't hit her full on; it could have killed her. Instead, it raised a bump on her forehead. That must hurt! She should put some ice on it.

Tip o' the Whipple Shield to Fark.

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