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September 23, 2020

CF man discovers meteorite, again

by Ken Haggerty

Skunk Hollow resident Larry Plucker is a fairly down-to-earth guy, except for maybe once every fifty years or so when he has what could be called cosmic experiences.

Plucker, who runs an appliance repair business, grew up on a farm near Emery, South Dakota. When he was just a kid, back in 1962, he pulled a somewhat different looking rock out of a rock pile on the farm.

The curious young kid did some encyclopedia research and suspected he had discovered a meteorite. He saw an article on meteorites in the farming magazine "The Furrow" and, as suggested in the article, sent a sample of the rock to the American Meteorite Laboratory in Denver, where it was confirmed a meteorite.

The Lab, which was aggressively researching meteorites as the U.S. was in the early years of the space program, bought his 36 pound rock for nearly $200.

(A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, the body heats up and emits light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting/falling star. There are about 40,000 documented meteorite finds in the world.)

Fast forward almost half a century. It's late-October, 2011, when Plucker, his wife and son are on vacation in Washington, D.C. doing all the touristy monument and museum visits.

During a stop at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Plucker was walking through an exhibit on various geological finds when he said to his wife "I wonder whatever happened to the meteorite I found." Plucker said they turned a corner and moments later he noticed a glassed-in display of meteorites, including one named "Emery" that was discovered in South Dakota, 1962.

The meteorite he had found as a kid was on display at the Smithsonian! It turns out his meteorite is a type called a mesosiderite, and is a mix of stone, iron and nickel and is one of the more rare meteorites. Plucker says only about one percent of the found meteorites are of this type.

Plucker grabbed a few pictures of his second chance occurrence with this cosmic rock for posterity and smiled about the probability and odds of finding that meteorite not once, but twice.

Since he was a kid, Plucker has kept a sliver of the meteorite, which he carries with him in his wallet for good luck. As Plucker jokes, "You know what they say: 'Catch a falling star and put in your pocket!'"

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