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'Biggest meteor in Qld ever': Meteor hunter in Gladstone

FACT FINDING: Wappa Falls Observatory owner and astronomer Owen Bennedick is looking for more information about the meteor which sent shock waves throughout Gladstone and the state.
FACT FINDING: Wappa Falls Observatory owner and astronomer Owen Bennedick is looking for more information about the meteor which sent shock waves throughout Gladstone and the state. Paul Braven GLA181016METEOR

QUEENSLAND space expert Owen Bennedick is in Gladstone sifting through information on what he says is the biggest meteor ever to explode off the shore of our state.

It's the event that sent shock waves throughout the region on September 26 at 8.26pm.

Almost a month on, with no physical damage or meteorites found, Wappa Falls Observatory owner and astronomer Mr Bennedick believes it exploded at sea possibly near one of the islands off Gladstone's shore.

For the first time in his astronomer career, which spans more than 50 years, Mr Bennedick has hit the road to find answers.

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He will spend today in Gladstone, then travel to Rockhampton, Miriam Vale, Agnes Water, Maryborough and Gympie.

"I have never done an investigation of this scale," he said.

"(The meteor) was seen from the Sunshine Coast to Mackay ... Shock waves have been calculated for more than 100 square kilometres.

Wappa Falls Observatory astronomer Owen Bennedick is looking for more information about the meteor which sent shock waves throughout Gladstone and the state.
Wappa Falls Observatory astronomer Owen Bennedick is looking for more information about the meteor which sent shock waves throughout Gladstone and the state. Paul Braven GLA181016METEOR
"This is one of the biggest explosions of this type in Queensland's history," he said.

"If it did explode over an island then we will go over there to see if we can find anything from it."

The Gladstone-born man estimated the meteor was between 3-5m in diameter.

He said if this object did explode on or closer to land, it could have ended "much worse".

Mr Bennedick said the Gladstone event should serve as a "wake up call".

"It's only a matter of time that we're not prepared for something like this, and it explodes closer to land."

The event caused chaos throughout the region with residents reporting their homes trembled, and some had broken windows.

Others spotted the whole sky light up like a spectacle they had never seen before.

"I think this should be a wake up call," he said.

"What we need is good equipment, more funding and the right people looking to the sky."

Mr Bennedick is searching for information from people who saw in the direction or angle the meteor was flying down at.

He said with these directions he could narrow the explosion location down to a "Triangular area".

If it did explode above an island, he said it was possible parts of it would have fallen to land.

Mr Bennedick has narrowed Heron Island out after staff and visitors reported no sonic boom or sighting.

Topics:  meteor space wappa falls observatory



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