Did a meteorite fall in one Wading River resident’s backyard?

12/14/2011 3:24 PM |

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Doris Leech of Wading River thought this object, which appeared near her home Tuesday night, might have fallen from above. Investigators say it is just a piece of wood.

As the annual meteor shower of the Geminids peaked last night, one Wading River resident thought a giant space rock had landed in her Soundfront backyard.

Doris Leech looked out her window about 7 a.m. Wednesday and saw a strange three-foot high, ten-foot wide object just east of the jetty near Wading River Creek. At low tide, the object was not submerged underwater. She said the object appeared to be too heavy to move and doubted that it floated to the area.

And though she had no idea the peak of the meteor shower occurred on the same night, she speculated it might have fallen from the sky.

“It was beautiful,” she said of the cragged mass outside her window. “It was volcanic looking. I’ve never seen anything like it. Only in National Geographic.”

She said in her 30 years living there, she had never seen the landscape of the jetty change or any other large objects wash ashore.

Although the large mass did have an other worldly quality about it, it appears it may be terrestrial after all.

A Riverhead Town Bay Constable investigated the object this morning and determined it was just an old tree trunk that had washed ashore.

“It’s a piece of wood,” said Mary Andruskiewicz, secretary to Police Chief David Hegermiller. She said police received a call just after 9 a.m. asking officers to investigate.

Coincidentally, the annual meteor shower of the Geminids peaked Tuesday night. The meteor shower, caused by the object 3200 Phaethon, can usually been seen on December 13 and 14. Meteor showers occur when the earth moves through comet debris.

“Geminids is the best of the annual showers to observe,” said Longwood planetarium Director Joe Caprioglio. “People, on an ideal night, can see as many as 120 bright flashes of light an hour. They look like falling stars, but it’s actually cometary debris.”

But Mr. Caprioglio said he did not believe the object that landed in Ms. Leech’s backyard came from above.

“That would have created a really bright fireball,” he said. “This would be the kind of thing that gets peoples’ attention across state lines.”

The meteor shower will continue until Dec. 17.

vchinese@timesreview.com

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