Sonny Clary Collection

     Crosbyton, Texas Fireball 2016  

The night of February 18, 2016 at 9:39 PM,  a large fireball streaked across the Texas sky exploding into the darkness.  Eyewitness reports began flooding into the AMS website within minutes of the fireball sighting.

The American Meteorite Society website received multiple reports from Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Reports from the Society’s  fireball log described the event as follows:
“It was a huge green glowing ball out of nowhere.”

“It disappeared into the horizon.” 

“ Beautiful and unexpected. How could one even to begin to be prepared to see that! ”
“It was so bright and lasted awhile that I thought it was fireworks or a missile but the explosion and train was unlike anything that I have ever seen.”

 “It was a large green meteor that appeared to have disintegrated without impact. One of the most spectacular I have ever seen. ”

Meanwhile Dr. Rhiannon Mayne, curator of the Oscar E Monnig Meteorite Collection and Gallery at Texas Christian University,  contacted Marc Fries regarding the fireball. Robert Matson and Marc Fries are two pioneers who have developed mapping techniques using doppler radar data to help triangulate the location of a meteorite fall.

I began to receive text messages regarding the fireball activity within hours of it being sighted. From previous experience with these doppler radar returns, I knew that there would be a high probability of meteorites being recovered.  I made travel plans and headed off to Texas. The fireball news spread like Texas wildfire and before long, several other well-known meteorite hunters descended upon the small town of Crosbyton, Texas.

The race was on to be the first to discover the freshly fallen meteorite. It is important to recover the stones as soon as possible to minimize terrestrial contamination. This allows us to provide a pristine sample to the Scientific Community for meteorite studies.

Several meteorite hunters began to hunt along the public roads. Others contacted landowners to seek permission to hunt their properties that were located within the radar returns. According to the data, we were provided, there was potential for multiple stones to be located under each radar return. The strewn field varied from plowed fields and cotton farms to land placed under the Texas Conservation Reserve Program.

The hunt proved to be a challenge. It was difficult to stay focused on the goal of meteorite recovery after several hours of walking up and down the endless rows of cultivated land and cotton fields

Depending on the size of the field, the minimum distance of each row was one half mile in each direction. The fields with pivot irrigations systems were considerably longer, and were over one mile for each circle. We walked an average of 14 miles a day.  After a few days of this routine, all of the other hunters left the area and headed home. This left just Terry and me in the field. After what seemed like an eternity of walking the cotton rows, Terry Scott  noticed a black stone lying in the dirt between us in the remains of harvested cotton plants. We could not believe our eyes!  It was great to see that all of the hard work and time spent in the field had paid off.


                                   Crosbyton, Texas 36.1g Meteorite  Feb. 2016

           Cut face of meteorite recovered at Crosbyton, Texas.