A small meteorite was discovered Wednesday after hitting a house in Waterbury -- and from the looks of it, the Gods in charge of hurling rocks at Earth are aiming for Connecticut towns that begin with "W."
Oddly, all but one of the reported meteorite strikes in Connecticut over the centuries have occurred in towns beginning with the letter "W": Weston in 1807, Wethersfield in 1971 and 1982, Wolcott and Waterbury in 2013.
The Wethersfield occurrences were of particular interest, improbably hitting houses only 1½ miles apart and separated in time by 11 years.
Professor Stefan Nicolescu, mineralogist at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, said the last two rocks to hit the state were likely from the same event.
The Wednesday discovery came just 19 days after a meteorite landed on a house in Wolcott and it landed less than a mile away from the earlier meteorite. It smashed through the Waterbury house's gutter and landed on the lawn. It was a recent event, although no one knows exactly when it happened, so both may have fallen at the same time, Nicolescu said.
"The first impression is that you would think that the two are connected," he said. "The Waterbury one was not an `observed fall,' so we really don't know exactly when it fell. We do know that it fell very recently, however."
He hasn't analyzed the Wolcott object yet, and he said that he won't know for sure whether the two space rocks are connected to the same objects until he has a chance to look at it.
So is Connecticut in the crosshairs of some sort of bizarre cosmic shooting gallery? Nicolescu says no.
"The Earth is hit by 15,000 tons of extraterrestrial material a year," he said, adding that since Connecticut is densely populated, the likelihood of finding meteorites are quite good.
He added that there are quite a few "meteor-wrongs" in the state, most of which are pieces of slag from blast furnaces in the city of Bristol.
"They're very strange-looking when you look at them, he said.
Cathryn J. Prince of Weston, who wrote about the 1807 Weston meteorite in her book, "A Professor, a President, and a Meteor: The Birth of American Science," said meteorites back then were truly terrifying to people of the time; rocks were not supposed to fall from the sky.
"In fact, many thought that they were some sort of weather phenomenon," she said.
Whereas the Wolcott meteorite split in two, the Waterbury object was found intact. It is about the size and shape of an avocado and weighs 1.6 pounds.
The homeowner contacted Nicolescu, the mineralogy collections manager at the Peabody, who also confirmed the identity of the Wolcott meteorite from last month.
Last month, a baseball-sized meteorite crashed into a Wolcott house damaging a roof and the attic. Area police reported that several residents reported hearing loud booms that night.
Wethersfield made Connecticut history by having meteorites hit two separate homes between 1971 and 1982. In both cases, the homes were occupied when the meteorites came crashing through the ceilings, although no one was injured.
The Weston meteorite fell Dec. 14, 1807. According to Prince, most of it fell in what is now Easton, which was founded in 1845 from 28.8 square miles carved out of Weston. Today, it's believed that none or almost none of the pieces fell in present-day Weston, although pieces were found in a swath that extended from Monroe to Fairfield.
The object was sufficiently bright to illuminate fields and barns, and there were reports of something strange streaking across the sky from as far away as Rutland, Vt.
The meteor broke up as it slammed into the earth's atmosphere at about 65,000 mph, and it soon seemed that Weston was a target of an artillery barrage, as dozens of rocks, one weighing 200 pounds, landed in the snow-covered fields.
According to Prince's book, the Weston meteorite provided the spark that over time turned the new nation, then populated largely by people who believed in the supernatural, into a scientific powerhouse.