EASTON, Conn. – Early one morning in December 1807, people across New England saw a bright fireball move across the sky, ending with three loud explosions heard over what was then Weston. Residents reported finding at least six large chunks of stone scattered around town after the event.
Yale University geologist Benjamin Silliman later determined the cause of the commotion. The area, which is now part of Easton, was the site of the first documented meteorite crash in the Western Hemisphere. You can learn more about the historic event at the Easton Public Library starting Wednesday.
Meteorites have been colliding with Earth since the beginning of time. But scientists didn’t fully understand the events until the early 19th century, says the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s website. European geologists collected their first proven meteorites after a meteor shower over France in 1803. But the Weston meteorite was the first collected specimen in the New World.
“In Europe I had become acquainted with meteorites and the phenomena that usually attend their fall, and several specimens had come under my notice,” Silliman later wrote in his autobiography. “I did not dream of being favored by an event of this kind in my own vicinity, and occurring on a scale truly magnificent.”
The last remaining piece of the meteorite, a stone weighing more than 35 pounds, has been a part of the Yale Peabody collection since 1825. The Historical Society of Easton has organized an exhibit dedicated to the meteorite, which will be on display at the Easton Public Library starting March 27.
The exhibit will feature information on recent work to pinpoint the exact locations of the meteorite’s crash sites. It will also include stories about recent attempts to correct the historical scientific record about the crash.
“Despite its importance as the first recorded fall of a meteorite in North America, the Weston Meteorite’s location became lost in confusion and rumor,” the historical society said in a statement.
The exhibit will be open to the public during the library’s normal hours from March 27 to April 30. For more information, visit the Historical Society of Easton’s website.