All-sky photo of the fireball captured by the Boorowa camera system.
All-sky photo of the fireball captured by the Boorowa camera system.

December meteorite fall near Trunkey Creek, NSW, Australia

January 28, 2020

By Geoff Bonning, PhD Candidate, Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University

In the early hours of December 12th, 2019, the Southeast Australian Fireball Network witnessed its first fall! Its trajectory and wind models have the fall coming almost directly down, landing near a town called Trunkey Creek, NSW. The meteorite is expected to be between 0.5 and 1 kg, and its sonic boom was even detected on nearby seismometers.

A reconnaissance mission was sent out to gather intelligence at the nearest pub and to try to contact the property owner. This was only a partial success, contact was made with the property manager but permission to enter and search waits on the owner’s approval. When shown the area that the meteorite was expected to have landed in the property manager grimaced and told us it was “goat country”, steep and rocky. The fact that it remained sparsely wooded as well evidently due to its not being worth clearing for the property’s sheep. While not immediately promising, if steep enough this may work to our advantage, with the meteorite rolling downhill. It also helps that the area is dominated by light-coloured granite, which we hope a dark fusion crust will stand out in. If found, the meteorite would be named Tuena, after the nearest post office. The second closest was a somewhat less romantic Neville.

Many thanks to Curtin for helping the Australian National University to establish our two solar-powered cameras last year near Canberra and Boorowa. Thanks also to the ANU students Aditya Patkar, Yankun Di, and Chitrangada Datta for joining in the reconnaissance mission. We’re looking forward to hunting in earnest, and to expanding the Southeast Australian Fireball Network!