U of C professor finds meteor and fame in north

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It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a freakin' meteor!

And it has taken Superman's strength to deal the ensuing media frenzy surrounding its arrival in Saskatchewan late November.

Since the Nov. 27 discovery of meteor fragments that landed on Ian Miller's farm near the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, University of Calgary graduate student Ellen Milley and U of C geophysics associate professor Dr. Alan Hildebrand have been swarmed by media requesting interviews, other universities and institutions requesting information and queries from the general public who have taken an unexpected interest in the sighting.

"It was obviously a dramatic event when it happened on [Nov. 20] because it happened just after 5 p.m., so a lot of people saw this fireball," said U of C research communications manager Grady Semmens. "They happen every year somewhere on the earth. This one was in a good spot for a lot of people to see it, so it certainly caused a lot of attention and excitement when it happened."

Because the event was seen by so many, Semmens and Hildebrand have been working tirelessly to gain as much scientific information as they can-- unfortunately many of the 800 plus e-mails in Hildebrand's inbox do not hold scientific research value.

"It's definitely led to quite an avalanche of interest and people wanting to keep us informed and let us know what they saw even though the vast majority of cases it might not be useful for research purposes," said Semmens.

Despite the bombardment of inquiries, including calls from as far south as Texas and Louisiana by people who saw a similar meteorite at the same time and wondered if it was the same one, Semmens said the questions are welcome.

"It is good to have that kind of awareness because you never know when someone might have something useful from a scientific point of view," he said.

The discovery of the fragments by the U of C team will raise the profile of an already strong research department, he added.

"It's showing we are definitely leaders in that field as far as North America goes," he said. "It's a good feather in our cap, definitely."