The Felix Carbonaceous Chondrite: A 3.3 from 1900.

Thirty minutes before noon on May 15th 1900, a single stone flew down from space through a clear blue sky. It attracted the attention of those in that region of Alabama having generated the sound of thunder during its supersonic passage through the thin atmosphere of earth. Using the metaphors of the day, one witness described the meteor’s noise as “a big piece of red-hot iron being struck with a hammer, causing many sparks to fly in all directions.”

Felix matrix

The classic dark matrix of Felix contains many colorful and well-formed chondrules. As a CO carbonaceous chondrite, its namesake is Ornans, but was often compared to Lance’ in the literature. And in the case of Merrill’s work, the Warrenton.

 

In 1901, George Merrell published the authoritative account of the fall of Felix, as well as a chemical analysis and a few pictures. From what I’ve read, not only is Felix the only CO3.3 witnessed to fall, but it seems Felix is the only CO3.3 period.

The British Natural History Museum’s catalog initially listed the classification of Felix as a CO3.2 which would have provided it some overseas relatives including Kainsaz and Rainbow, but the Meteoritical Society suggest Felix be known as a CO3.3. On the far end of the family, there is a transitional hot desert find known as NWA 062 that straddles the line between 3.3/3.4

Felix Crust

Crust is always welcome on a historic fall, and as 115 years old, Felix is historic.

Below is the full text of Merrill’s tome on this Felix, Alabama fall. I especially appreciate the descriptions of the fall provided by the witnesses.

 

 

Until next time….

About the Author

Martin Horejsi
Dr. Martin Horejsi is a Professor of Instructional Technology and Science Education at The University of Montana. A long-time meteorite collector and writer, before publishing his column The Accretion Desk in The Meteorite Times, he contributed often and wrote the column From The Strewnfields in Meteorite Magazine. Horejsi is currently a monthly columnist in The Science Teacher, a journal by the National Science Teachers Association. Horejsi specializes in the collection and study of historic witnessed fall meteorites with the older, smaller, and rarer the better. Although his meteorite collection once numbered over a thousand pieces with near that many different locations, several large trades and sales have streamlined the collection to about 250 locations with all but 10 being important witnessed falls. Many of the significant specimens in Horejsi's collection are historic witnessed falls that once occupied prominence in the meteorite collections of Robert A. Haag, James Schwade, and Michael Farmer. Other important specimens were acquired through institutional trades including those from The Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University, and other universities.
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