A rock likely to be a meteorite crashed into a New Jersey home on Monday (May 8), damaging a bedroom but causing no injuries.
No one was at Suzy Kop’s home in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, when the space rock made its entrance, according to CBS News Philadelphia (opens in a new tab), which first reported the unusual event. The meteor touched down around 1 p.m. EDT, going through the ceiling and landing in Kop’s father’s bedroom. Judging from the damage, the meteor hit the floor, bounced up to the ceiling, and came to rest in the corner of a room. The metallic rock measures about 4 inches by 6 inches (10 by 15 centimeters).
“I touched the thing because I thought it was a random rock … and it was hot,” Kop told CBS News.
Authorities are still investigating the origin of the apparent space rock, but derrick pits (opens in a new tab), the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, told CBS News that it could be between four and five billion years old. It is possible that the meteorite was part of the current Eta Aquarids meteor shower, which occurs roughly between April 19 and May 29 each year, peaking around May 5 and 6. During peak days, the shower can produce hundreds of “shooting stars” per hour, most of which are meteors burning up in the atmosphere. These meteors are the rocky debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, which becomes visible from Earth every 75 to 79 years, according to POT (opens in a new tab).
“For it to actually hit a house, for people to pick it up, that’s really unusual and has happened very few times in history,” Pitts said.
Meteors enter Earth’s atmosphere all the time, but most burn up before they hit the ground. On rare occasions, those that do land cause damage to buildings. For example, in 2015, a 1.6-pound (712-gram) meteorite crashed into a house in San Carlos, Uruguay, destroying a bed and television (opens in a new tab). In 2021, a British Columbia woman woke up to a loud noise to discover a fist-sized stone between her pillows; turned out to be a fragment of a meteor that exploded in the air (opens in a new tab), causing a fireball. In November 2022, a meteorite impact is believed to have caused a California house about to burst into flames.
Small meteors have also been reported crashing into buildings in Sumatra in 2020, in Connecticut (opens in a new tab) in 1982, and in auckland (opens in a new tab) in 2004. Fortunately, no one was injured in these incidents; the only known example of a person struck by a meteorite (opens in a new tab) It happened in Alabama in 1954, when an 8.5-pound (3.8-kilogram) space rock crashed into a woman’s home, knocking out her radio and striking her leg, leaving a large bruise.
The meteor event that caused the most injuries did not involve anyone being directly struck by a space rock. In February 2013, a meteor estimated to be 59 feet (18 m) in diameter entered Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia. The resulting fireball blew out windows and damaged buildings, causing more than 1,600 reported injuries due to glass and debris, according to POT (opens in a new tab).