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Weston Meteor Was Almost Lost to Science

Weston residents may not know that their town once played an important role in the science of cosmic geology. On Dec. 14, 1807, a meteorite blazed across the sky. Racing toward the ground at seven miles per second, it created a sonic boom that echoed across three states.

Upon impact, the 350-pound space rock shattered, causing an explosion heard 40 miles away. Residents raced to obtain a piece of this manna from heaven, thinking it might contain gold or some other valuable mineral. In their haste to get rich, they destroyed almost every single fragment. They could hardly have known that this rock would become one of the most important space minerals in American history.

But it almost slipped away. Scientists Benjamin Filliman and James Kingsley left for Weston as soon as they heard the news about the meteor. They discovered several small fragments and were able to do extensive chemical analysis. But when they heard a rumor about a large fragment, they knew that its place was in a museum, and they wanted to get their hands on it.

They learned that a local man had it and was trying to sell. Silliman and Kingsley were unable to buy the meteor, and it was sold to Col. George Gibbs, a mineral collector. Nearly 20 years later, Silliman and Gibbs had become close friends. Gibbs offered his entire collection of 20,000 minerals -- including the Weston meteor -- to Yale University for $20,000.

Silliman raised the funds and purchased the collection for Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History. It is now the oldest meteorite collection in America.

Weston became famous in the scientific community after this event and is considered by many to be the birthplace of the science of cosmic geology.

Have you ever visited the Peabody Museum? Did you see the meteor? What is it like? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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