Exceptional impact artifact: a window measuring 13.5″ x 16″ x 2″ with broken glass shattered by the shockwave from the Chelyabinsk fireball, February 15, 2013, Chelyabinsk, Russia. Since large fireball events happen infrequently, and even less frequently over inhabited areas (the most recent prior example was over Park Forest, Illinois, in 2003), this was perhaps a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. Since it was widely-reported that a large number of windows were shattered over an estimated 200-square-mile region, you’d think this would have been a relatively easy task. It wasn’t. It was a winter fireball…in Russia. The average February high around Chelyabinsk is 19 F° with a low of -4 F°. Therefore, is it any surprise that the industrious Russians repaired everything as quickly as humanly possible?
The Russian Chelyabinsk fireball of February, 2013 was the most thoroughly-documented fireball event in all of recorded history. It is unparalleled in its study for another reason, too: the massive damage it inflicted on local civilization. An estimated 1,200 people were injured and hundreds or thousands of windows were blown out by the force of the meteorite’s shockwave. Videos of the fireball and windows exploding due to shock can be seen in some number on YouTube.
A noted and experienced meteorite hunter and collector quickly traveled from the United States to Russia with the intention of recovering freshly-fallen meteorites. He was successful in this, but he also had an even more challenging goal: he was going after impact artifacts.
When he arrived in Chelyabinsk, he was surprised (and very disappointed) to find little architectural evidence of the massive fireball and its shockwave. Windows had been rapidly replaced and broken glass on city streets had been carefully swept up and discarded. However, successful meteorite hunters are patient and relentless and determination won out. Eventually, a small number of windows were located and carefully transported back to the United States.
Presented here is the Chelyabinsk broken window impact artifact. It is a wooden frame with several glass shards shattered by the 2013 fireball still in place along the edges. A cloth backing has been added, along with a descriptive plaque. On the reverse is a provenance note stating the address of the house from which it was removed, along with an image of the removed windows outside the house.
A rare, excellent, and enthralling memento of Earth’s 'most famous fireball.'
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.