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Step Back In Time

November 23, 2013

Step Back in Time: Nov. 23, 2013

Step Back in Time features news items from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.

25 years ago

Nov. 23, 1988

COOPERSTOWN – At about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Greg Chapman was walking up County Route 26 where it rises from state Route 28 at Grasslands Hill about a mile south of Cooperstown. Suddenly a yellowish glow, like a light bulb, appeared in the sky and fell to the ground.

Chapman went to investigate and found what he believes is a meteorite.

What Chapman found is a rock about the size of a doorknob, loaded with pockmarks and a few larger holes about the diameter of a pencil. The grayish surface, where it is not pitted, is smooth, and the stone seems about the right weight for its size.

Chapman’s find probably will be a once in a lifetime experience, according to Charles Hartley, a Hartwick College professor who teaches physics and astronomy.

“It’s a fairly rare event,” he said.

Also known as shooting stars, meteors are the glowing streaks in the night sky that occur when wandering bits of rock or metal fall into the earth’s atmosphere from space. Hartley said that from five to seven per hour strike the atmosphere. But most burn up on their ride through the atmosphere. The few that make it to earth are called meteorites.

Chapman is protective about his find. He is afraid he will be confronted by government officials or scientists who may try to take the rock away from him. He is afraid local people will think he’s crazy.

Hartley said Chapman probably has little to worry about. Under the law, the finder of a meteorite in the vast majority of cases is the keeper, he said.

Chapman has many unanswered questions about his find.

“The other people I show it to are pretty amazed,” he said. “I keep wondering how far it came from.”

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