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Flemish observatory calls for help in search of meteorite samples

An image of the meteorite over Brussels taken from one of the cameras of the Fireball Recovery and Interplanetary Observation Network (FRIPON) (©Vigie-Ciel / Institut Royal d’Aéronomie Spatiale de Belgique)
10:49 25/01/2021

A “very clear" meteorite was observed over parts of Western Europe early on Friday morning, according to the Mira Observatory, located in Grimbergen, Flanders.

The observatory announced the sighting of the meteor, which was seen in the skies over Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and England on Friday at around 7.52, on social media and immediately asked for members of the public to be on the lookout for fragments which could have hit the earth somewhere in Flanders.

The observatory said it had analysed images from cameras installed in Uccle in Brussels, and Oostkapelle and Noordwijk in the Netherlands and determined that “the meteorite was descending somewhere between Dendermonde and Aalst, and that there is even a chance that some fragments have reached the Earth's surface," the team at Mira team said.

"According to the latest calculations it is possible that a fall of small meteorites weighing up to 100g occurred in an area between Dendermonde and Aalst, some 30km from Brussels," explained Mira’s Emmanuel Jehin.

"The biggest section that could be found should weigh 100g with a diameter of 4 or 5cm," added Hervé Lamy, a researcher at the IASB (Royal Institute of Space Aeronomy of Belgium). He urged rock hunters to be fast because the object could soon become damaged by weather or other external factors.

"We are appealing for witnesses in case people living or passing in this area have seen or heard something unusual on Friday morning or noticed since then one or more very dark stones of a few centimetres on a sidewalk, a street, in their garden in this area,” said Emmanuel Jehin. “The collection of meteorites must be done very quickly so as not to be damaged or lost."

There have been only six meteorite falls recorded in Belgium since 1830. The last one took place in 1971. "Meteorites have a very great scientific interest because they allow us to study the composition of asteroids and the history of the solar system," said Emmanuel Jehin.

‎If you have found something you think could be a section of the meteorite, you can contact the Mira Observatory at ‎‎info@mira.be‎‎ or Emmanuel Jehin at ‎‎ejehin@uliege.be.‎

Written by Nick Amies