map Honduran flag

    Expedition to Honduras

      February 10-24, 1997

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Meteorite?   Crater?   Fireball?   Devastation?   Landslide?

The story

On December 15, 1996, Associated Press issued a report entitled "Meteorite blasts 165-foot-wide crater in Honduras". Similar reports were found in Honduran press. The meteorite should have impacted at the slope of the hill Cerro Negro near the city of San Luis on November 22, 1996 around 10pm local time. The published photographs, however, looked more like a landslide than like a crater. At the beginning of January we received the first scientific report from María Cristina Pineda de Carías, the director of the Astronomical Observatory of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras. It was clear that an extremely bright and probably meteorite dropping fireball was really observed in Honduras that evening. Nevertheless, the directions were inconsistent with the impact on Cerro Negro.

Following the invitation of María Pineda to investigate the event more closely, and after solving the visa problem, I started the expedition on February 10. During the first week, the scientists Adriana Ocampo (USA), Edward Tagliaferri (USA) and Ramón Rivera (Honduras) also participated in the expedition. The common effort was concentrated on getting testimonies from eye witnesses, field investigation including the feature on Cerro Negro, collecting samples. A popularization in the local media was also made aiming to obtain reports on meteorite falls. As we found that the fireball approached the Honduran-Guatemalan border, Guatemala was also visited for two days.

Photographs from the expedition

People on the expedition   (3 pictures)
at the map , landing , showing meteorites

Landslide on Cerro Negro   (3 pictures)

general view , closer view , detail

Landslides on Cerro Azul   (2 pictures)

general view , detail

Possible meteorite from El Progreso   (1 picture)

Landscapes of Honduras and Guatemala   (5 pictures)

Santa Barbara , Copan , Chiquimula , Motagua valley , Motagua valley detail


The data from the expedition are being analyzed and the results will be published. Some facts are evident: My main task was to retrieve the fireball trajectory and estimate the meteoroid parameters. I have already formulated the report dealing with fireball trajectory, brightness, mass, the prospects of meteorite recovery etc. Meteorites as large as 0.5m in diameter could be present in Guatemala. The location is roughly plotted on the map.

Jiri Borovicka, March 13-19, 1997

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