On Sunday 28th of September 1969 at approximately 10.58am a rare type of stony meteorite fell over the township of Murchison, surprisingly causing only minor damage.
The meteorite was moving in a north-westerly direction before impact and exploded over Murchison with fragments falling over an area approximately 11 kms long and 3 kms wide. Although few people saw the fall, most Murchison residents heard it, with the noise likened to thunder or a sonic boom. From Kialla West it was seen as a bright orange ball with a silvery rim and a dull orange tail, leaving a blue smoke trail which lasted for several minutes.
The Murchison meteorite is a one of the rarest types known and one of the most extensively studied. It is classified as a carbonaceous chondrite – only 1% of all known meteorites are of this type.
It is thought to be more than 4.6 billion years old and formed in the early history of the Solar System.
One of the fascinating features of the Murchison meteorite is the presence of amino acids, the building blocks of DNA, the genetic code in living cells. Some scientists think they represent primitive life forms. Recent scientific study has identified the presence of sugar.
When the meteorite was first collected many people commented that it smelt like methylated spirits. This is due to pyridine, one of the many organic compounds found in the meteorite.
Visit the Heritage Centre, 4 Stevenson Street, to see samples of the meteorite and to find out more.