To celebrate the Summer Reading Challenge starting in July, we have chosen a space-themed object this month! Visit the Summer Reading Challenge site to find out more about how to take part.
This week’s object of the month is a set of meteorites, in the Market Harborough Historical Society cabinet. They were originally found in Sussex, and acquired by a member of the Society.
Meteorites are solid pieces of rock usually made up of iron and nickel debris, typically from asteroids, comets or meteorites. They form in space and land on Earth after entering the atmosphere at high speed creating shooting stars.
The Museum’s small collection of meteorites on display are believed to have been found on and around Beachy Head in Eastbourne, a popular place for people to find and collect fossils as well as space rocks. The small village of Willingdon six miles inland from Beachy Head experienced a meteorite shower which had been forecast in September 2004. A surprised local whilst out walking with her dog found a small piece of meteorite measuring around one and a half inches, and some of the smaller pieces are proudly on display in the museum.
The largest meteorite shower ever recorded in British history, occurred in 1965 on Christmas Eve at around twenty past four in the village of Barwell, Leicestershire. A local resident was out walking when he saw a flash of light and heard a loud bang, and pieces of meteorite began to fall. Days after the shower the villagers began to collect a combination of small fragments and large chunks of the meteorite to piece it together. Much of the find has since been donated to the National Space Museum in Leicester.
For centuries we have been fascinated by astronomy, planets, UFOs and the workings of space. A local, notable resident from the village of South Kilworth, Leicestershire contributed immensely to research and development of our understanding of astronomy. This was Reverend Doctor William Pearson, born in 1767. Having co-founded The Astronomical Society in London in 1820 with fellow astronomer enthusiast Francis Baily; the society began pursuing research in astronomy, geophysics and the solar system. By 1831 the Society became the Royal Astronomical Society or R.A.S, with over four thousand worldwide members today.
In 1834, Pearson began building an Observatory known as the Rectory Observatory in South Kilworth. The Rectory Observatory was built to prevent the smoke from nearby chimneys destroying any findings and observations, in 1835 Pearson observed Halley’s Comet. Whilst serving as Rector to the village from 1817, he dedicated thirty years to observation until his death in 1847 at the age of 81. Reverend Pearson is buried in St. Nicholas’ Church, South Kilworth.