18-year-old finds space rock from fireball over Europe in France

The meteorite originated from the 3.2-foot SAR 2667 asteroid.
Deena Theresa
Representational picture of a fireball entering the Earth's atmosphere.
Representational picture of a fireball entering the Earth's atmosphere.


On February 12, around 10 pm EST (0300 GMT, February 13), an asteroid burned up rather dramatically over Europe. Hours later, a space-focused citizen science volunteer group found a meteorite from the fireball event 2023 CX1.

Members of the science group Vigie-Ciel (translated to 'Sky Lookout') and a related project, FRIPON, another space-focused citizen science effort working with French scientific institutions like the Paris Observatory and the University of Paris-Saclay can be credited with confirming the exciting find.

Loïs Leblanc, an 18-year-old student, found the meteorite first. At 4:47 pm, Leblanc chanced upon "a dark stone barely level with the ground of a field in the town of Saint-Pierre-le-Viger," the group wrote in a blog post.

The asteroid SAR 2667 was discovered 60 miles northeast of Budapest

The meteorite originated from the 3.2-foot SAR 2667, which astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky discovered at Konkoly Observatory's Piszkéstető Station, some 60 miles (100 kilometers) northeast of Budapest, with a two-foot (0.6-meter) telescope.

The astronomer told Space.com they were doing a routine hunt for near-Earth objects. "It was immediately obvious that it was a NEO, but it wasn't particularly fast across the sky, as it was heading right towards us, and it was faint," Sárneczky said.

The group wrote in the blog post that the last meteorite found on French territory was that of Draveil in 2011.

Astronomer's second incredible find

This is the second time Sárneczky spotted an asteroid just hours before it broke apart in Earth's atmosphere as a fireball.

The previous finding was in March 2022. Sárneczky spotted an asteroid, the 2022 EB5, two hours away from colliding with Earth's atmosphere. This is "probably a once in a lifetime" experience for an "asteroid hunter," Sárneczky had told Space.com back then.

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