Disappointing news for Texas meteor hunters

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by MARIE SAAVEDRA

WFAA

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 29 at 11:45 AM

FORT WORTH — Hundreds of people across North Texas were lucky enough to see a meteor streaking across the sky last Friday night.

The Janca family of Roanoke thought they might have been lucky enough to find a piece of it.

Who better to ask then the experts at TCU's Monnig Metor Gallery? Curator Dr. Rhiannon Mayne oversees an extensive collection, and can identify part of a meteor in an instant.

On Tuesday, when she met the Jancas, she immediately shared the underwhelming news.

"There are a couple of things about this sample that make me know it's not a meteorite. The first is that it's really bubbly," Dr. Mayne said. "It wouldn't have air bubbles. Another thing is, you don't have any of this fusion crust on the outside, and this is what melts."

“What you have is almost certainly an industrial slag, where they had some molten leftover product, and we get that all over Texas,” she added.

The spot in Roanoke where the Jancas made their discovery is next to a site where crews are doing some sewer work. So they joined an esteemed list at the Gallery's guestbook of people from Texas and beyond who've brought in what staff call "meteor-wrongs."

Dr. Mayne said there is a steady stream of people traveling to or e-mailing the Gallery for expert opinions as to whether they’ve found a space rock... or not.

“Probably about at least one a week,” she said.

The Jancas are good sports. Even with the news that their find is of this planet, who knows? They could still find one someday... if they keep looking up.

“It's rare, but it does happen, honestly!” said Dr. Mayne said. “And Texas is a pretty good place to find them.”

E-mail msaavedra@wfaa.com

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