November 7: Maximilian’s Meteor

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Written by Matthew Mendez, Journalist

November 7, 1492 C.E. The Ensisheim Meteorite lands near the village of Ensisheim in modern day France, becoming the oldest recorded meteorite with a date of impact. Weighing about 127 kilograms, or 280 pounds, the meteorite later became classified as an ordinary chondrite, the most common type. Shortly after impact, the people of Ensisheim gathered to raise the meteor from the ground, removing large pieces of the object in an effort to do so. Upon hearing of the damage being caused to the metor, a local official of the Austrian Empire intervened, dispersing the crowd and preserving the celestial object for King Maximilian, the son of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III. Fascinated by the meteor, Maximilian proclaimed it as a wonder of God, keeping some of the meteor for himself and his friend Archduke Sigismund of Austria. Later, Maximilian decided to return the stone to the people of Ensisheim, where it was preserved in the parish church of the town. Even in the twenty first century, the meteorite remains an integral part of Ensisheim and its people.