Guest blog: Bucket List Astronomy Tour Class -- Meteor Crater

Posted by Karri Ferron
on Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Bucket List Astronomy Tour (BLAsT) Class continues for 10 Sam Houston State University students and their two professors, Dr. Scott Miller and Dr. C Renee James. The group is still in Arizona soaking up the many astronomical sites that state has to offer. James and a student provide an update of their activities.

Arizona's Meteor Crater is the most well-preserved impact crater on Earth. // Photo by Kevin Mulcahy
On Monday afternoon, Dr. Scott Miller spent some time with the students discussing the history of impacts in the solar system, attempting to explain just how much energy is involved in collisions between these bodies. The students created their own craters with various balls and a planetary surface of flour and cocoa powder (which tragically weren't used to make a chocolate cake), but these craters were nothing and the speeds they could achieve with the impacting objects were trivial compared to the real thing that we saw Tuesday. Here's what Adena Crider, a 20-year-old criminal justice major, had to say about the experience:

"As a student who thinks way too much, I've always harbored the secret belief that Meteor Crater was a government conspiracy. But traveling to the actual site and stepping along the ledge, learning that a meteor crashed into Earth and created a hole big enough to hold 20 football fields comfortably on the floor with 2 million people watching from the walls of the crater ... wow, it's at first hard to grasp. Our guide, Eduardo, explained that the thing that made this giant crater hit about 50,000 years ago and was 150 feet (45 meters) across (give or take). Mostly iron and nickel, it whooshed in from the east and upturned the layers of rock. From before this trip and thinking that it couldn't even be possible to learning scientifically it very well is possible for a meteorite to crash into Earth's surface and create such a big crater in the ground was just astounding to me. Breathtaking and mind-boggling, I continue to be blown away by the amount of things I thought I understood."

A priceless sign in the Meteor Crater area. // Photo by Megan Willmore

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