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Finding or buying???

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#1 bookworm14

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 09:41 PM

A question for meteorite collectors: when you say you "collect" meteorites, do you mean that you go out in the field and look for them or that you buy them on ebay?
If a novice were to go into the field to look for them, how would they do it? With a magnet? Is dragging a field with a magnet a realistic way to collect iton meteorites? Sorry for the dumb questions, but I really don't know the answers.

#2 molniyabeer

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 10:04 PM

bookworm14,

I think for most of us, it's "buying." I would love to find one but suspect that will be while...

If you want to look for your own, I'd suggest researching known strewn fields (the areas where meteorites from a particular fall are scattered, sometimes over many miles). Then start looking! Meteorites will often show a blackened exterior (the fusion crust) although that can weather off with time. Dry, desert areas are generally better hunting than moist forests since you can see the rocks and they don't weather as quickly. A magnet is a great way to check as most (but not all) meteorites are magnetic, even the stony ones.

I don't know if dragging the magnet would be really productive unless you were in a known strewn field, and I'm not sure even then. But you never know and new finds are reported from time to time by people like farmers turning over fields.

Hope some of this helps! Even if you don't ever find your own, it's pretty neat to hold something that is as old as or older than the Earth. And as you start learning about the different types of meteorites and how they formed, it's fascinating to think you might be holding a piece of the core of something that could have been a planet but got blown to bits by an impact.

Clear skies.

#3 Glassthrower

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 10:08 PM

Hi Bookworm,

No question is dumb!

I buy all of mine since I am not in position to travel and hunt them down in the field.

Meteorite-hunters who find them in the field use a variety of techniques and tools.

First is a metal detector. Even "stony" meteorites have a relatively high metal content (the majority of them at least) and will set off a metal detector.

Dragging a field with a magnet has been done, and it works. In fact, I have an old b&w photo of a hunter driving his Packard through a farmer's field and towing a thrown-together contraption that was essentially a framework holding several powerful magnets. This will attract and snare small meteoritic fragments, especially the iron ones.

As for where to look, try established "strewnfields" first. These are places where meteorites have been documented to fall. Just because the area was already searched, doesn't mean everything was found. Some of the oldest strewnfields are still turning up specimens thanks to improved detector technology and dogged determination by hunters.

Also, watch out for fireball reports. Any time a large meteor fireball is reported, there is a chance that meteorites may have survived the trip and hit the ground. Fireball reports are watched closely by hunters and they have been known to jump on a plane the next day and fly out to the area if the prospects are promising. Of course, unless the meteorite falls in an open desert or similar flat featureless terrain, it may be next to impossible to find. I live in Southern Louisiana, and I imagine that any meteorite falling here has a large chance of landing in the swamp - lost forever.

Fireball reports come in from a variety of places - news media, meteorite discussion lists, weather forums, astronomy forums (like Cloudy Nights!), etc.

One friendly piece of advice about eBay and meteorites - do your homework and consider the many offerings carefully. Most of them are legit, but there are many fakes and misrepresented specimens as well. Buyer beware. ;)

Regards and clear falling skies,

MikeG

PS - edit, I just noticed Steve replied at the same time I did! :lol:


#4 Jamie76

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 11:50 PM

All mine are bought, but now that I am living in the southwest US, I may do some hunting. Some of the best finds have been in Arizona and New Mexico. It's still possible to find stones from the Holbrook fall.

#5 csa/montana

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 09:07 AM

Mine are all purchased, or gifts to me. :grin:

Carol

#6 kinoeye

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 10:30 PM

Also, watch out for fireball reports. Any time a large meteor fireball is reported, there is a chance that meteorites may have survived the trip and hit the ground. Fireball reports are watched closely by hunters and they have been known to jump on a plane the next day and fly out to the area if the prospects are promising.


Interesting. Is there a centralized reporting service for fireballs, similar to the Astronomer's Telegram service the professionals use?

#7 Glassthrower

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 11:10 PM

Interesting. Is there a centralized reporting service for fireballs, similar to the Astronomer's Telegram service the professionals use?


Not that I am aware of. If there is, I would appreciate it if someone would point it out. :)

If there's not, there should be one.

#8 kinoeye

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 11:22 PM

You're probably already aware of this one but this is the closest I could find.

http://www.amsmeteor.../fireballs.html

#9 Glassthrower

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 11:32 PM

The American Meteor Society is a great source of information. :)

The AMS folks are more concerned with the aerial show than the impact product. But their fireball reports can be useful to the meteorite hunter.


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