April 5th, 1804 – Meteor Targets Glasgow!

Today-In-History

The High Possil meteorite fell on the morning of Thursday, April 5th, 1804, in a quarry near High Possil, on the northern outskirts of Glasgow. The High Possil meteorite is one of only four ever to have been found in Scotland – the others being the Perth meteorite of 1830, and the Strathmore meteorite, which fell in Perthshire in 1917 of the 1,998 fragments of a stony meteorite reported from a field near Glenrothes in Fife, although this is known to be an older fall, as they are very weathered.

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The High Possil meteorite was one of a number of falls around the beginning of the 19th century, which were witnessed, recovered and investigated thoroughly. The 1795 Wold Cottage fall in Yorkshire, 1803 L’Aigle fall in France, and the 1804 High Possil fall could perhaps be said to mark the beginning of modern meteorite science.

Although meteorite falls are rare everywhere, Scotland seems to have “escaped” unexpectedy lightly from such bombardment – over 18 falls are known from England and Wales. This effect may be more apparent than real, as much of Scotland is only sparsely populated, and the results of any unseen falls would rapidly become untraceable in the extensive tracts of mountain, bog, loch and forest.

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High Possil is a stony meteorite, classified as an L6 ordinary chondrite – a very common type. The Hunterian Specimen, GLAHM M172, now weighs about 151g, and is the largest surviving piece of the meteorite. Although extraterrestrial in origin, the High Possil meteorite is mostly made up of minerals which also occur on earth. The major constituents are similar to those of a basalt: orthopyroxene, olivine, plagioclase feldspar and diopside. About 9% of the meteorite consists of nickeliron alloys, with traces of other minerals such as troilite, whitlockite, chromite and copper.

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