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Fireball Strikes Earth

schedelensisheim02

November 7, 1492: Ensisheim Meteorite Strikes Earth

The Ensisheim meteorite, the oldest meteorite with a known date of impact, strikes the earth around noon in a wheat field outside the village of Ensisheim, Alsace, France.

The fall of the meteorite through the Earth’s atmosphere was observed as a fireball for a distance of up to 150 kilometers (aprox. 93 miles) from where it eventually landed.

Ensisheim_meteorit_donnerstein_1_vss2007

Sebastian Brant (1458–1521), satirist and author of “Das Narrenschiff” described the meteorite and its fall in the poem, “Loose Leaves Concerning the Fall of the Meteorite”.

Residents of the walled town and nearby farms and villages gathered at the location to raise the meteorite from its impact hole and began removing pieces of the meteorite.

A copy of the original Brant text with a stylized image of the Ensisheim meteorite's fall.

A copy of the original Brant text with a stylized image of the Ensisheim meteorite’s fall.

A local magistrate interfered with the destruction of the stone, in order to preserve the object for King Maximilian, the son of reigning Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III. A piece of the meteorite was sent to Cardinal Piccolomini (later Pope Pius III) at the Vatican along with a number of related verses written by Brant.

Sebastian Brant

Sebastian Brant

Brant created broadsheets in Latin and German with a poem about the meteorite describing it as an omen. The fall is also described in Folio 257 of the Nuremberg Chronicle. German painter and mathematician Albrecht Dürer sketched his observations of the fall of the meteorite.

Albrecht Dürer sketch

Albrecht Dürer sketch

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