Like a detective fixated on deciphering the sequence of events in a crime, astronomers use every available tool in their arsenal to build an understanding of the universe. Such is the case with Lowell Observatory’s Nick Moskovitz and fellow celestial sleuths as they looked to profile an intruder from outer space. Incorporating a variety of analytical techniques, applied to both direct observations of the event and forensic evidence collected afterwards, they’ve been able to characterize a 2016 meteorite fall in eastern Arizona.
The story starts on June 2, 2016, when at 3:56 in the morning, a super-bright meteor — commonly known as a fireball — streaked through the skies of eastern Arizona. More than 400 people, who for whatever reason were awake at that time, witnessed the event and reported it to the American Meteor Society, a non-profit scientific organization that collects data and encourages research on such meteoritic phenomena.