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The hunt for the Christmas meteorite

An article by the BBC discussing a 4.5bn-year 'Christmas meteorite' - the biggest to hit the UK - which crashed on Christmas Eve, 1965, in the village of Barwell in Leicestershire has quoted Dr Leigh Fletcher from the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

During the article Dr Fletcher explains that when a meteor travels faster than the speed of sound it creates a shock wave. Most recollections of the meteorite strike start with a bright light in the sky followed followed by a sonic boom - for example in 2013, the shock wave from the Chelyabinsk meteor in Russia was picked up by scientists more than 9,320 miles (15,000 km) away in Antarctica.

In Barwell, the booming sound was heard by Fletcher's mother-in-law. She was taking a dog for a walk in a cow field when she heard a tremendous crash. A group of carol singers set out across the village soon after and felt something crunching under their feet as they went.

The pieces found scattered across houses and streets on Christmas Day sparked a frenzied meteorite hunt. The fragments are still being studied by the Natural History Museum and are also highly sought after by collectors.

The largest Barwell piece will be returning to where it fell half a century ago on Saturday 12 December. People are being encouraged to bring any meteorite pieces that they might have kept to the anniversary event.

Dr Fletcher suggests that every story and piece of the meteorite connects Barwell to something much bigger.

He said: "It's the debris from the birth of our solar system. It's no wonder people keep a piece of it tucked away in a box."

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