View Full Version : Meteor Crater, Arizona, Astronomy related kinda

2005-Jul-20, 01:03 PM
Well, in the effect that impact craters come from the stars. I've mentioned before that I was in Arizona last week and we went to see the big ditch and Meteor crater. Just some random thoughts for those of you who haven't been there.

Man, that is a big hole. And I don't know why I didn't ever think of the uplift around the it. You drive to it on it's own little highway off I-40 and go past little ridges that probably are wrinkles though I didn't really get much time to look back. For some reason though I always imagined it like the Grand Canyon where you just come up to the edge and there it is. Nope, the sides of the crater rise up about 100 or so feet from the desert floor before falling into the crater, and that makes total sense, but I just didn't think about it. If you see a picture of it, you'll see a little, oblong building along the side of it. That is the visitors center and it's really pretty big. Gift shop, bathrooms, subway, movie theater and museum are in there and only when standing next to it and looking at a picture of it did it sink in how big the crater was. I took some pictures, but I don't have a lense that will fit the whole thing in.

In the center of the bottom is what is left of a drilling rig and a fenced in enclosure. My son was asking how big the circles were, they were caused by drilling looking for what was left of the meteor that caused the hole. He was having problems getting a grip on the size. I showed him that by one of the corners of the fencing is a US Flag and a 6 foot tall cutout of an astronaut. It's hard to see as it is so small. While my wife, son and daughter sought refuge inside, it was 105 at the time, I just sat there and tried to get a grasp on it.

The Grand Canyon is pretty, it's also large, perhaps too large. You really can't get ahold of the size of it, so you section it out. Meteor crater seems to be just the right size. Any bigger and you couldn't 'see' it.

I was rushed as my wife did have keys to the rented minivan, so I didn't get much time to look at the different rock formations and such, but you do get a feeling of what it must be like to be on the moon, or Mars looking over that landscape. Really breathtaking.

2005-Jul-20, 02:58 PM
You drive to it on it's own little highway off I-40
Good thing it landed where it did, too. A little to the left and it would have taken out the Interstate.

(thanks for sharing your thoughts :) )

2005-Jul-20, 10:00 PM
It has many names. It used to be Coon Butte and Canyon Diablo before getting its Barringer Astrobleme moniker.

Sadly--its worst name was 'crypto-volcanic' due to the uniformitarian/gradualists who hated catastrophists.

2005-Jul-20, 10:09 PM
The biggest shame is how it has become a big tourist trap with the sole goal of making the owners lots of money. Something like that should be a national park.

2005-Jul-20, 11:15 PM
Its a pretty impressive sight from 30,000 ft. Gives an impretion of what it would be like to orbit the moon.

Charlie in Dayton
2005-Jul-21, 02:07 AM
The lunar astronauts trained there to give them ideas of what they might find in impact cratere on the lunar surface...
I got to go out there in '85...you're just not ready for how big that hole is...the mind can't grasp the scale until you're there...

The Barringer Crater has its own website! (http://www.barringercrater.com/)
The Meteorite Exchange (http://www.meteorite.com/meteor_crater/index.htm) has an excellent aerial photograph taken from a different angle, and on a day with scattered cloud shadows -- this gives some perspective on just how big that hole in the ground is...it's HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE...
An APOD of the Barringer Crater. (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap971117.html) This is the standard picture that everyone's used to seeing -- compare it to the one from the Meteorite Exchange, and match up some surface features...as I said, that hole's HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE...

The Bad Astronomer
2005-Jul-21, 04:40 AM
I went there a few years ago, after a trip to the Grand Canyon. Mrs. Bad said, "This isn't very impressive compared to the Grand Canyon," to which I replied, "Well, the Canyon took hundreds of millions of years to carve. This was dug in about 3 seconds."

That got an appreciative nod from her. :D

I have a couple of Canyon Diablo meteorites I've collected. First ones I got, actually. As meteorites go, they aren't very interesting, but since I stood at the spot where they hit, they're special to me.

2005-Jul-21, 08:07 AM
I was rushed as my wife did have keys to the rented minivan, so I didn't get much time to look at the different rock formations and such, but you do get a feeling of what it must be like to be on the moon, or Mars looking over that landscape. Really breathtaking.
Rule #1: You want to spend enough time to really look at something, you first make sure you have possession of the keys.

Remarkable sight, made all the more remarkable by the estimated size of the object that caused it: 150 feet.

2005-Jul-21, 06:16 PM
I have been there too :D

I couldn't even wrap my head around the size of the thing even standing on the edge of it! It was amazing!!!

2005-Jul-21, 06:48 PM
...Mrs. Bad...

2005-Jul-21, 11:03 PM
...Mrs. Bad...

That would be Mrs. Astronomer to us. :wink:

A 3 sec. dig. Nice BA! :)

Wasn't it Shoemaker who determined it was a meteor crater? This discovery may have pushed him to discover the Shoemaker-Levy comet. [I figure someone here knows a lot on this.]

2005-Jul-21, 11:38 PM
The Arizona meteor impact energy is equivalent to about 140 years worth of Grand Canyon energy.

A wicked 3 seconds. :P

[Assumes 30,000cfs flow rate with 2,200 ft. fall for the Colorado, 20 million tons TNT for the meteor.]

2005-Jul-21, 11:51 PM
It was Shoemakers 'Shocked Minerals' that helped him prove it was a meteor strike, that and initially several other sites in Europe. Saw that on Discovery the other day, he was walking through this 'Meteor crater' in some place on the other side of the pond looking for these chemical deposits when he releazed the church in the center of town was totally constructed out of it.

In the 10 minute intro film that you get to watch at the crater, Carolyn Shoemaker gives you some of the facts of it and why the Crater itself was the inspiration for her and her husbands quest for detection of future meteors.

It was said earlier that this site should be a National Park. Well, although they probably do make money on the site, they do seem to be education oriented and I saw little less education from this site to the Grand Canyon which is a National park. Fact is, there was more education at the Meteor. Just putting the Government in charge doesn't make it better. Another example of this I have is local and is the 'Arabian' museum here in Kansas City. The Arabian was a steamboat that went down years ago on the Missouri river, the site is actually less than 2 miles from my house, on the Kansas side now. Privateers found, dug out and are preserving what was in effect an 19th century Sears on floats. They didn't sell off the goods though, they preserve and display them and run a museum with it. Their payback is education and the slower returns of the museum and gift shop. I find this much preferable than the government taxing you and me to preserve and then seal up in boxes as much of the goods as possible, bringin it out when they have the money and time.

You ever get to KC, take a look at this Museum. Part of the boat, including the stern of the ship, the boilers and engines and such are all on display along with a large quantity and diversity of the "goods". It's a great museum. So is Meteor Crater's site.