Meteorite shower hits Chicago suburbs

A bright fireball was observed around midnight on Wednesday, March 26, 2003, in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. Soon thereafter, there were numerous calls made to the police in the Village of Park Forest (Ill.) by residents of the area reporting that they had heard loud noises. It soon became evident that the area had been pelted by a shower of meteorites.

This meteorite fall is unique since no other observed fall has ever taken place in such a densely populated area anywhere in the world. Although several buildings appear to have been struck by the stones, no one appears to have been hurt.

Historically, there are only three other meteorite falls known to have occurred in Illinois: the Tilden meteorite that fell in 1927 and the Bloomington and Benld meteorites which fell in summer and fall of 1938, respectively.

Preliminary examinations of the meteorite pieces that fell around Park Forest indicate that it belongs to a class of stony meteorites called ORDINARY CHONDRITES. About 82% of all meteorites that are witnessed falls belong to this class. Chondrites are among the oldest objects to have formed in our solar system and are about 4.5 billion years old.

Meenakshi Wadhwa
Associate Curator, Meteoritics
Department of Geology
The Field Museum