Friday, October 3, 2008

Sikhote-Alin Meteorite

If you like old black and white Russian documentaries with English subtitles, boy have I got the film for you. Back in February of 1947 a huge meteorite fell to Earth in the Russian Sikhote-Alin Mountain Range. The Russians sent in a crew to retrieve and document the fall, the above movie is part of the documentary. I got permission to put the movie on YouTube from the person who did the subtitles, it is condensed down to nine and a half minutes to fit on YouTube, if you want to download the whole 18 minutes you can go to the originating web site here.

The Sikhote-Alin meteorite was witnessed by many people, it made a huge smokey trail and bang that could be viewed and heard for 30 km around the impact zone. The impact made 30 craters and left 28 tonnes of material behind.

The image above are a couple of actual Sikhote-Alin meteorites, the one on the left is called meteorite shrapnel because it looks like twisted bomb shrapnel, the meteorite on the right is a small individual piece of the meteorite, both were gathered back then.

The images above are pictures taken under a microscope of the meteorite at 40 times magnification. Witnesses say it looked like a bright star then turned into a fireball leaving a large smoke trail behind, it entered the Earth's atmosphere at around 31,000 mph. The samples are quite heavy and magnetic as they consist of around 90% iron.

October 6 the Messenger Probe will make another flyby of our planet Mercury. This will be the second flyby of our little planet by the probe. Messenger will come to within 125 miles of it's surface to gather another gravity assist to slow it down for the eventual orbit of Mercury in March 2011.

Messenger has 6 major scientific questions to try and answer.

1. Why is Mercury so dense?

2. What is the geological history of Mercury?

3. What is the nature of Mercury's magnetic field?

4. What is the structure of Mercury's core?

5. What are the unusual materials at Mercury's poles?

6. What volatiles are important at Mercury?

Once in orbit Messenger will gather data to try and answer the above questions, the mission is slated to last for one year, ending March 2012.

I'll leave you now with a Sunset I took a couple nights ago, the Sun is slowly setting earlier everyday, a sign that winter and the minus 40c weather is on it's way, so sad.


Swubird said...


Great old Russian video of the meteor. I love that old stuff stuff. I bet you would like to get your hands on a junk of that meteor, right? Put that baby under your new microscope.

Happy stargazing.

Genie said...

Meteorpalooza! How fun!

Extremely informational stuff about Mercury, I had no idea there was such mystery about it.

roentarre said...

Beautiful abstract and lighting

Priyank said...

The documentary was educative. For two reasons - the other being that I am learning Russian currently. Did you see the smile on the geologist's face when he picked up the first piece of iron meteorite? Very cool, thanks Bob

Anonymous said...

but at at least it's setting later in the southern hemisphere!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol swubird, love to get a huge chunk of it for sure, the little individuals I have fit nicely under the scope to take some pics, and even they are heavy, quite remarkable.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks genie, they have a lot of unanswered questions about our little planet, the data should be quite interesting.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks roentarre.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks and you're welcome priyank, yes I did notice the smile, they did an excellent job for the time with the documentary, very informative.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol anonymous, so true, a good time to be living south of the equator.\m/\m/

Don said...

Do you think the odd stuff at the poles is ice? It seems odd that water can even exist on Mercury. Cool post

Sherer said...


Excellent old video. I love stuff like that! Amazing such small meteorites can cause such big damage!

What should I look at with my telescope this week. Moons not too bright.... I want a new and exciting target.... You assistance is much appreciated. \0/

Sherer said...

\m/ i mean

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Don, they do think it is ice, due to the fact there are some deep craters that don't get any light,ice may be able to form, even that close to our Sun although they aren't 100% sure, we shall see.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Jesse, I thought the video was awesome and a great find.

As far as what to look at tonight, well I'm going to be looking at the Moon before it sets (8:30pm cst) to view some craters, crescent Moons are my favorite,the terminator brings out the character of the Moon, maybe get a pic or two of some Earthshine.

Also before it sets, look off to the right and a little below it, that bright star will be Antares, always a cool combo to view.

Once the Moon sets, the skies the limit, good contrast,no light to interfere with deep sky viewing, I'll be off to look at the Double Cluster, between Cassiopeia and Perseus in the North East, it is remarkable to view in a scope.

Also the Pleiades will be starting to set in the west but you will able to pick it off in your scope.

Other then that no conjunctions to speak of but there are a lot of clusters , open and globular to view,I'll be looking at M15 just to the right side of Pegasus, high in the south, also M11 or the Wild Duck Cluster, because the stars look like a duck flying, very cool a beautiful rich open cluster in Scutum. M13 glob in Hercules is another,M31 the Andromeda galaxy,lol, lots of viewing and don't forget about Jupiter.

Hope you have star charts you'll probably need them to find these items, they are worth the hunt, good luck and have lots of fun. \m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...


Speedcat Hollydale said...

28 tons of material? That is the weight of a loaded tractor trailer semi!!! .... I know :-)

Hard to imagine something with that mass crashing down from space.
Another note - the GIF images you use are GREAT. Do you mind if a take a copy??

sorry to be off topic with this, but - "I love your political comments" Sad but true!!!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol speedcat hollydale, good point about the semi,I never looked at it that way.

No problem with the gifs or pics, I appreciate you asking, thanks.

Politics, I'd rather get a root canal done then watch or listen to any politician no matter what party they are from,lol.\m/\m/.

Sherer said...


Thanks for the tips! If my sky is clear i'll check out that moon! I have never seen M15, or M11. Wild duck!\m/ Sounds cool - thanks for the comprehensive answer!


Will said...

Wow, Bob. Another great information packed post!

Fascinating video - and is the 28 tons what was displaced from the craters? Or was it 28 tons of pieces of the Meteorite? It couldn't have been that heavy?

roentarre said...

These images of rock/mineral are stunning. Hard to meter as well

Roger said...

That's just good stuff my man!

Bob Johnson said...

No problem Jesse, hope you had good luck finding these items.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Will, if memory serves me right, the Meteoroid was around 100 tons before it entered the atmosphere, the 28 tons was collected after the fall.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks roentarre, I actually have a few lights surrounding the scope for lighting, and you are right very hard to get the right effect for lighting.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Roger thanks.\m/\m/

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob

Mike and I are wondering if you received the recent emails from The Society of Midnight Wanderers (now called MW Society Press). We haven't heard back from you since our restart. I did notice you have updated your badge...thank you my friend.

Could you please email me at and confirm whether you plan to submit something in the future or not? We are in the process of redoing our membership list and I really hope you decide to stay on and be part of our organization.

So please, check out our revamped site at

We would appreciate it if you would get back to us.
Thanks a million my friend.

Max said...

Hey Bob,

Loved the Russian video: boy, those were some craters *nodding*! Imagine if somebody were nearby when the meteorite fell: Yikes!!

So, you got the Sikhote-Alin meteorite;let me tell you; they are a beauty!!! Look at that green..gorgeous!

I wish Messenger all the luck in bringing back those answers!

Now, this Sunset...absolutely gorgeous!!! And I agree with you: the cold is coming and it is sad! Summer went by so quickly...unbelievable!

Oh, great Lord of the Astropics, I wish you a fantastic week!


Bob Johnson said...

Hi JD, just got the current one, I haven't got your email address, I will get back to you regarding it, I want to submit something but have to find out how to do it since it's not on my blog edit part anymore, thanks for asking.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks max, they are lucky it was in a fairly vacant area, no one got hit, if it would have hit in a populated area, wow, big problems.

Thanks for your comment max, I will have a great week and the same to you.\m/\m/

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob

The email address is

Just submit your work to that email address. We publish it.

Visit our website at and check the submissions tab and it will tell you what to do.

Anonymous said...

With all that said

...thanks my friend.


Genie said...

I just read about the asteroid they are predicting to enter our atmosphere tonight. Can't help but wish for you that you were in Africa for the event, I bet you'd take some awesome shots of it!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks for thinking of me genie, you actually beat me to the punch, because of you I checked my email, just got back from work, and my NASA newsletter just announced it, this is the first time they have predicted this size of asteroid entering the Earth's atmosphere before it happened, very cool.\m/\m/

Genie said...

I am eagerly awaiting your coverage on the event! Well, if there's anything much to report.

Marvin the Martian said...

Wowie zowie, that is cool! I want a ton or two of that stuff.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey genie, thanks again, we shall see.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey marvin after tonight we may have a new witnessed fall, another new meteorite, very cool.\m/\m/

Anna said...

Bob I will come back to watch it later, but I remember when I was little I used to watch many Russian war movies, Polish movies or German movies, funny how on Russian movies Russians were heros, on Polish - Polish were heros, and on Germans - Germans were heros, lol. Sorry got off topic, but you reminded me good old times, lol, when we had only one channel to watch, lol. Cool photos of the meteorite, 90% iron that is a lot. BTW your sunsets are amazing, where in the world do you live that you get those, lol, I am lucky if I get a nice sun ray these days. Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks so much for your great comments all the time Anna, I really enjoy old movies, especially when they are informative as well, this was a cool movie.\m/\m/

kml said...

Hi Bob - you don't perchance own a piece of that Russian meteor do you? I read about how heavy some of those pieces are - amazing!

djwandered said...

Just purchased a Sikhote-Alin Meteorite at Kitt Peak and really enjoyed the background info

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