Astronomers scouring the countryside in southern Italy after reports that an asteroid was big enough to hit the Earth were amazed when they got a call from two brothers after it landed on their balcony.
The meteorite was filmed by numerous people as it was seen burning through the sky at about 190 mph in the Puglia and Basilicata Regions.
Because it was spotted on 14th February, it is becoming known as “Valentine’s fireball”, and scientists hope to find the remains after working out that it was heavy enough to strike the Earth.
However, searches in the countryside were in vain, because it had actually hit the balcony of a house in Matera, a city in the region of Basilicata, in Southern Italy.
Also known as the stone city, because of the local cave dwellings carved into the stone, the property belongs to the parents of Gianfranco and Pino Lossignore, who had not realised what had happened because only their elderly mother was home at the time.
The unnamed woman reportedly admitted she heard a loud bang, but had not thought anything of it because of a storm going on outside at the time.
Gianfranco confirmed he had not been around at the time and that his mother was in the basement, where she heard a loud bang.
He said: “yes she was worried but because of the strong winds she just thought it was a tree branch. We would never have expected that it was a meteorite.”
However, when the brothers went to check the solar panels, which were not working properly, they discovered they had been damaged by the stones, and then when they heard about the alert, they called the astrologers.
Scientists from the Italian Organisation for the Study of Meteors and Atmosphere (PRSMA) and the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) who rushed to the scene confirmed that it had struck the house.
A statement obtained by Newsflash from Prisma added that they have so far recovered 12 larger fragments weighing around 70 grammes and several smaller fragments.
Daniele Gardiol, INAF astronomer of Turin and national coordinator of the Prisma network, said: “The discovery took place just three days after the fall. That means it is very fresh and uncontaminated material because it had not landed in water or soil.
“Meteorites have gone through the 4.5 billion years since the formation of our Solar System almost unchanged, and finding one that has just fallen like the one found in Matera helps scientists a lot to reconstruct the stages that led to the formation of planets, including the Earth.”
He added that in this case it was almost as if it had fallen from space because it had landed on the balcony and remained pure.
He said that although meteorites were often being found since 1959 when more data had been recorded, there had only been around 40 finds worldwide where the discoveries were fresh and uncontaminated.
He added that in Italy, it was also only the second time, after an early discovery of the Cavezzo meteorite found near Modena in January 2020.
The fragments of now-found meteorite have been handed over to PRISMA, run by the Italian institute of astrophysics.
The level mayor Domenico Bernardi said there was a lot of excitement about the discovery.
He said: “The meteorites will be named after the two brothers. Matera is one of the oldest cities in the world and has often been the site of exciting discoveries.”