Shortcut Navigation:
D. METEORITE IMPACTS hero

Meteorite impacts

Meteorite impacts

  • About

    • Countless impacts continue to shape Earth, other planets and moons in our dynamic Solar System.

      February 12, 1947, 10:30 a.m.: A woodsman stacking logs in the frozen forest of eastern Siberia stopped working when he noticed a sudden flash of light, brighter than the Sun, streaking across the sky. Dozens of others in the area saw the flash too, and they described a huge fireball that exploded, bursting into smaller pieces that fell to Earth with cracking and roaring sounds. A huge, red-tinged column of dark dust hung in the sky for several hours, marking the fireball's path.

      An iron meteorite weighing perhaps 100 tons, more than three times as much as Ahnighito—displayed at the center of this hall—had exploded in the dense lower layer of Earth's atmosphere. It shattered into tens of thousands of fragments that crashed into the thick forest, tearing apart and uprooting trees and digging hundreds of craters in the snowy ground.

      Show more
  • For Educators

    • Topic: Earth Science

      Subtopic: Meteorites

      Keywords: Astrogeology, Astrophysics, Meteorites, Siberia (Russia)

      Audience: General

In This Section

D.2. EARTH IMPACTS min.jpg

Earth impacts

During Earth's 4.5 billion year history, countless meteorites have crashed onto the planet. Many of these impacts initially left behind craters, ranging from small pits to huge cavities dozens of miles across. 

D.3. METEOR CRATER min.jpg

Meteor Crater

The first geological report on the gigantic Northern Arizona Crater, in 1891, focused not on the crater itself but on tiny diamonds found in nearby meteorites.

D.4. ON THE MOON min.jpg

On the Moon

The craters on the Moon are a historical record of asteroid impacts—on Earth as well as the Moon.

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions

Enlighten Your Inbox

Stay informed about Museum news and research, events, and more!