Where to Find Meteorites: A Guide for Amateur Astronomers
A Guide for Amateur Astronomers
Explore the depths of the universe and find your own intergalactic treasure! With this guide for amateur astronomers, you’ll learn how to identify and track meteorites, so you can become a space-faring collector of cosmic rocks!
How to Identify Meteorites
Meteorites are rocks that have fallen from outer space and landed on the Earth’s surface. While they’re often mistaken for everyday rocks, meteorites are much rarer and can offer a glimpse into the history of the Solar System. If you think you’ve stumbled across a meteorite, there are a few key ways to identify it and make sure your find is really out of this world!
1. Check for Fusion Crust: Most meteorites develop a thin, dark, glossy coating, called a fusion crust, as they pass through the atmosphere. This coating is caused by extreme heat and friction as the meteorite passes through the atmosphere, and is a tell-tale sign of a meteorite.
2. Look for a Weight Difference: While meteorites and Earth rocks may look the same, they can often differ in weight. Meteorites are typically much heavier than Earth rocks, so if your rock feels significantly heavier than other rocks of the same size, it could be a meteorite.
3. Check the Shape: Meteorites often have a distinctive shape due to their time in space and the atmosphere. Most meteorites are aerodynamic, meaning they have a streamlined shape with a pointed end that was
What to Look For in Potential Meteorites
When it comes to searching for potential meteorites, there are certain characteristics that you should look for that can help you identify them.
Meteorites are fragments of rocks or iron which have been ejected from outer space and landed on Earth.
First, you should look for a rock with a black, scaly surface. This is a telltale sign that the rock is a meteorite because the surface of the rock has been melted and cooled from its journey through the atmosphere. This is known as a fusion crust.
Second, you should look for a rock with an irregular shape. Meteorites tend to be shaped somewhat like a potato or an oddly shaped rock, rather than the smooth, spherical shape of a rock that has been shaped by natural forces on Earth.
Third, you should look for a rock with a high metal content. Meteorites are often made up of iron, nickel, and other metal-based elements, and they are often magnetic. If you have a metal detector with you, this can be a useful tool in finding meteorites.
Fourth, you should look for a rock with a high concentration of inclusions. Inclusions are pieces of other material that have been embedded in the rock, usually tiny pieces of other rocks or minerals. These are often found in meteorites, and these inclusions can further help you identify the rock.
Finally, you should look for a rock that is heavier than it looks. Meteorites are often denser than Earth-based rocks, so they will be heavier than they appear. By looking for these characteristics, you can help identify potential meteorites and add to your collection.
Locations Where Meteorites are Most Likely to be Found
Meteorites are most likely to be found in deserts, as the dry conditions and lack of vegetation make it easier to spot them. Some of the best places to look for meteorites include the deserts of Africa, such as the Sahara and the Namib, as well as the deserts of Australia, the United States (such as the Mojave and Sonoran deserts), and Antarctica.
These locations have been particularly productive for meteorite hunters due to their arid conditions and the presence of large, flat areas where meteorites are easily visible. Additionally, the lack of vegetation in these areas makes it easier to search for meteorites and to spot the dark, pitted surface that is characteristic of many meteorites.
Different Types of Meteorites
There are three main types of meteorites: stony meteorites, iron meteorites, and stony-iron meteorites.
- Stony meteorites, also known as chondrites, are the most common type of meteorite and are made up of silicate minerals. They are thought to come from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and are made up of the same materials that formed the early solar system.
- Iron meteorites are made up of iron and nickel, and are thought to come from the cores of asteroids that have been shattered by impacts. They are much rarer than stony meteorites and are often highly prized by collectors.
- Stony-iron meteorites are a mixture of the two other types and are relatively rare. They are thought to come from the mantle or crust of asteroids that have been shattered by impacts.
In addition to these main types, there are also a few other rare types of meteorites, such as carbonaceous chondrites, which contain a high percentage of organic compounds, and pallasites, which are stony-iron meteorites that contain large, beautiful crystals of olivine.
The Best Time of Year to Look for Meteorites
The best time of year to look for meteorites depends on where you live and the weather conditions in your area. In general, meteorite hunting is best done in the early morning or late evening, when the sun is low in the sky and the shadows are long. This makes it easier to spot the dark, pitted surface of meteorites against the ground.
In areas with hot, dry climates, such as deserts, meteorite hunting can be done year-round, as the dry conditions make it easier to spot meteorites. In areas with cold or wet climates, meteorite hunting is best done during the warm, dry summer months.
Additionally, some meteor showers are more active at certain times of the year, so if you are interested in hunting for meteorites that have fallen during a particular meteor shower, you may want to plan your search accordingly. For example, the Perseid meteor shower, which is one of the most active and well-known meteor showers, peaks in mid-August each year.
How to Collect Meteorites
If you think you have found a meteorite, there are a few important steps to follow to collect it properly.
- First, use a GPS device or a map and compass to mark the exact location where you found the meteorite. This will be important for scientific study and for verifying the authenticity of the meteorite.
- Next, take a few photos of the meteorite in situ, showing its location in relation to the surrounding area. These photos will also be useful for scientific study and for verifying the meteorite’s authenticity.
- Carefully dig around the meteorite to expose it fully and to avoid damaging it. Use a small brush to remove any loose dirt or debris, and be careful not to hit the meteorite with your tools.
- Once the meteorite is fully exposed, carefully lift it out of the ground using a shovel or other tool. Place it in a protective container, such as a plastic bag or a box, and label it with the date, location, and your name.
- If possible, take the meteorite to a professional for analysis and identification. This will ensure that the meteorite is properly classified and catalogued, and will also help to confirm its authenticity.
It is important to note that collecting meteorites is a delicate process and should only be done by experienced individuals. If you are not sure how to properly collect a meteorite, it is best to leave it in place and contact a professional for assistance.
Where to Sell Meteorites
If you have found a meteorite and would like to sell it, there are several places you can go to find buyers. One option is to contact a museum or university with a meteorite collection and offer to sell your meteorite to them. Many institutions are interested in acquiring new meteorites for their collections and may be willing to pay for your specimen.
Another option is to sell your meteorite to a private collector. There are many individuals and organizations around the world that collect meteorites, and they may be interested in purchasing your specimen. You can find potential buyers by searching online, attending meteorite shows and conventions, or contacting meteorite dealers.
Finally, you can also sell your meteorite through online auction sites, such as eBay. This can be a convenient way to reach a large number of potential buyers, but you may need to provide detailed documentation and provenance to verify the authenticity of your meteorite.
It is important to note that the value of meteorites can vary greatly, depending on their type, size, and rarity. It is a good idea to research the market and compare prices before selling your meteorite to ensure that you receive a fair price for your specimen.
Resources for Amateur Meteorite Hunters
If you are interested in becoming an amateur meteorite hunter, there are many resources available to help you get started. Here are a few suggestions:
The Meteoritical Society is a scientific organization that promotes the study of meteorites. They have an active community of meteorite hunters and offer a range of resources on their website, including information on how to find and collect meteorites, as well as listings of upcoming meteorite shows and conferences.
The American Meteor Society is another organization that promotes the study of meteorites and has a large community of amateur meteorite hunters. They offer a range of resources on their website, including information on how to identify meteorites, as well as a database of reported meteorite sightings that can help you find potential hunting grounds.
The Meteorite Market is an online forum for buying and selling meteorites. They have a section of their website dedicated to amateur meteorite hunters, with information on how to find and collect meteorites, as well as a classifieds section where you can buy and sell meteorites.
Finally, there are many books and websites that offer detailed information on meteorite hunting, including tips on where to search, how to identify meteorites, and how to collect and sell them. A simple internet search will provide you with a wealth of information on this topic.
Safety Precautions When Looking for Meteorites
Meteorite hunting can be a fun and exciting hobby, but it is important to take certain safety precautions to protect yourself and others. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Always be aware of your surroundings and stay alert for potential hazards, such as cacti, snakes, and other dangerous wildlife. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes, and carry plenty of water and sunscreen to protect yourself from the elements.
Be mindful of private property and seek permission from the landowner before searching for meteorites on their land. Respect any signs or barriers that are in place and do not disturb any artifacts or cultural sites you may come across.
Use appropriate tools and techniques when searching for meteorites and handling them. Avoid using metal detectors, as they can damage meteorites and make them difficult to identify. Instead, use a small brush or trowel to carefully dig around the meteorite and expose it without damaging it.
If you think you have found a meteorite, do not touch it with your bare hands. Meteorites can contain dangerous bacteria and other contaminants, so it is important to handle them with gloves or other protective gear.
Finally, be prepared for the possibility that the object you have found may not be a meteorite. Many rocks and minerals can resemble meteorites, so it is important to have your specimen identified by a professional before assuming it is a meteorite.
Following these safety precautions will help ensure that your meteorite hunting adventure is enjoyable and safe.
The History of Meteorite Hunting
The history of meteorite hunting dates back to ancient times, when people around the world were fascinated by the rocks that fell from the sky. Some of the earliest recorded observations of meteorites come from ancient China, where they were known as “dragon stones” and were believed to be the teeth of dragons. In ancient Greece, meteorites were known as “thunderbolts” and were thought to be the weapons of the gods. In many cultures, meteorites were considered to be sacred objects and were prized for their supposed magical properties.
As people began to understand more about the nature of meteorites, their value shifted from the supernatural to the scientific. In the 18th and 19th centuries, meteorites became a subject of intense scientific study, and many famous scientists, including Benjamin Franklin and Georges Cuvier, studied and wrote about them. As people began to explore the solar system and to understand the origins of meteorites, their value as scientific specimens increased, and they became an important tool for studying the early history of the solar system.
Today, meteorite hunting is a popular hobby for many people around the world. Advances in technology, such as the development of GPS and other mapping tools, have made it easier for people to find and collect meteorites, and the internet has made it easier for people to buy and sell meteorites. Despite these changes, the fascination with meteorites and their mysteries continues to this day.