A commemorative service was again held at the Ossario in the Murchison Cemetery this year on Sunday 10th of November. Numbers attending were less that other years – where once there were tens of buses, this year there were only 3 large buses and a small coach. As the years pass, the older generation are often too frail to attend or have passed away.
An impressive procession lead the way to the formal service and speeches by dignitaries including Mayor of Greater Shepparton, Cr. Seema Abdullah and Colonel Luca Spuntoni, Defence Attaché from Embassy of Italy, Canberra. Both spoke very clearly about the importance of this annual service of remembrance and the need to encourage the younger generation to continue to support the occasion.
The rendition of Il Silenzio is always very moving. A Catholic Mass concludes the formalities after which it is possible to enter the crypt area where the 130 Italians who died on Australian soil during World War 2 have their final resting place.
of the 50th anniversary of the landing of the now world-famous
meteorite on 28th September 1969 over Murchison was a great success.
The weekend started with a direct broadcast by the ABC breakfast show from the Heritage Centre on Friday 27th and it was an enjoyable experience working with well-known radio presenters Warwick Long & Matt Dowling interviewing locals who had a story to tell.
The Heritage Centre was open each day providing
meteorite displays and showing of related short films and also solar viewing.
A wonderful ‘Dinner Under the Stars’ was the official
opening event on the Friday evening. Cosmos inspired music compiled by our
local primary school students and fabulous decorations of a twinkling starry
ceiling in the main hall of the Community Centre, greeted the diners as each
guest was presented with a glass of bubbly in a souvenir wine glass. Vince
Peters, g. g. g. grandson of our aboriginal leader King Charles Tattambo, who
rests in Murchison cemetery, performed Welcome to Country. A superb meal was
catered by Murchison’s Longleat Winery, and a specially composed song and
humorous film clip The Meteorite Speaks provided some amusing
entertainment. Each Scientist was introduced as a lead into the talks that took
place on Saturday and Sunday and also Dave Reneke, Astronomy Educator, who
presented engaging sessions on both days.
Saturday morning, Mayor of Shepparton, Cr. Kim
O’Keeffe officially unveiled the refurbished information board and labyrinth in
On Sunday morning the Space Treasure Hunt in the
Riverbank Gardens attracted many families with small children. A meteorite hunt
for older children allowed them to find a real piece of meteorite and have a
Scientist explain the name, type, and weight of their take home find.
Re-enactment of the sonic booms at 10.58 both Saturday
and Sunday created quite a stir!
Local clubs were given the opportunity to provide
catering and the local shops were very busy as were the Hotels. Over 1600
people attended the various events on offer and feed-back has been
overwhelmingly positive especially from the visiting Scientists, and, as they
travel the world with their work, this was praise indeed.
An art competition, colouring in for younger students,
painting and drawing for higher grades and an essay competition that produced
some great work were arranged for the students at Murchison Primary School. Standards were high and the judges had a hard
time deciding winners. Prizes and certificates were awarded on their return to
school after the holidays.
Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District
Last Sunday 22nd September, friends and members of the Murchison & District Historical Society gathered together to start the 50th anniversary celebrations of the fall of the Murchison meteorite, with the unveiling of beautiful artwork on the wall of the Heritage Centre and launch of a new book “Space Gem”.
The paintings reflect the reactions when the a very loud noise startled the folk and animals in the town. This image shows the artist Jane Spencer and a very startled dog. Other paintings depict a cow, a bird and a boy reacting to the sonic booms that reverberated over the local area as the meteorite arrived.
Marg Lock has written a thorough account of what happened on that day in 1969 to put Murchison on the map. The Murchison meteorite became the most studied of all meteorites due to its primitive chemistry, its age – 4.6 billion years old and rare components. A really good read for all who are excited by this rare meteorite.
Why do we get so excited about a piece of rock, even if it did come from outer space?
Artist impression of a daytime meteor shower
Let’s run through a few facts about Murchison meteorite, the reasons for such scientific interest, and why it is important to celebrate its fall in September 1969, 50 years ago this year.
It is a very rare type, known as a Carbonaceous Chondrite type 2 – only 1% of meteorites are of this type
The Murchison meteorite is regarded by Scientists and Astrophysicists as one of the most important meteorite to have landed on earth due to its rare components
It is 4.6 billion years old, older than our sun and solar system as we know it today, consists of primitive chemistry that has remained largely unaltered, so provides information on the type of material which clumped together to form the planets
It landed during the day, over a populated area so the samples were picked up quickly before they could become contaminated. Many meteorites end up in the sea or isolated desert areas and are never discovered
Thousands of meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere each day. Most disintegrate and simply end up us dust particles. A few larger pieces, perhaps 5 – 10 a year, get through the Earth’s atmosphere so Murchison meteorite must have been quite large initially as pieces that were weighed totalled over 100kgs
It originated from the Asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, travelling somewhere between 300 and 450 mil. kms depending where it started its journey to earth
The estimated speed it was travelling is about 13 – 15 kms a second – equivalent to travelling from Murchison to Shepparton in 3 seconds, faster than our eye can detect
Its arrival was accompanied by a very loud noise described as sonic booms, as an express train or jet plane
Amazingly, no-one was injured by flying particles even though the largest piece weighed 6.8 kms and the only damage reported was a hole in a tin shed roof and a dint in a railing surrounding a dairy
Most pieces ended up in America, as following the moon landing in July of that year, the Americans had sophisticated equipment to be able to analyse the rocks
It had a chemical smell, like methylated spirits, due to the presence of pyridine one of many organic compounds present in the meteorite
A fascinating feature of the Murchison meteorite is the presence of over 100 amino acids, organic compounds that are the building blocks of DNA, the genetic code in living cells. Some scientists think they represent primitive life forms
Water and sugar have also been detected in the meteorite
Murchison meteorite is featured in every major museum around the world
It is the most studied of all meteorites and the subject of hundreds of scientific papers
It is fascinating that this event occurred in our little town, Murchison. Scientists in fields such as Chemistry, Geology, Minerals, Meteoritics, Astrophysics and Space Exploration often get very animated talking about Murchison meteorite, many telling us that it is ‘their favourite thing’!
So… that is why residents of Murchison are also EXCITED!! And we plan to celebrate the 50th year anniversary in style on the weekend of 27th, 28th, 29th September. See our website for details – http://www.murchisonmeteorite.com.au
Click on this link: https://vimeo.com/356497627 for a film clip of Dr. Philipp Heck. He will be speaking 28th 29th September at our 50th Anniversary celebrations.
Kay Ball, President, Murchison & District Historical Society Inc.