02Dec2013

How To Find Meteorites Around Your Home

Every day tons of meteorite material fall from the sky

Chances are your house has been hit by a few thousand micrometeorites, and you’ll be able to find a few if you know the secret place to look. The next time it rains try this little trick.

Place a bucket under a drain spout in order to collect a good quantity of rain. Get rid of the leaves and roofing materials and then sift the remains through a bit of old window screen. What you’re after is so small that you’ll need a very strong magnet (neodymium magnet) to find them. Use this super-strong magnet to determine if any of the remaining particles contain iron. Those particles may be space dust, also known as micrometeorites. Let’s examine all this in more detail.

There’s just something about a good science fiction storyline that grabs the imagination of a kid whether that kid is nine or ninety years old.  That’s where micrometeorites can serve a great purpose.  That’s right, I said micrometeorites.  These are tiny meteorites that have survived the passage from space, through Earth’s atmosphere, and finally to your own lawn.  Most people never have the opportunity to see, or for that matter find, a meteorite.  These people often also have no clue of the tiny ones that strike us in the head as fine grains of iron and other minerals that just an hour earlier were hurling through space at thousands of miles per hour.

METEOR19N_3_WEB

Tiny pieces of actual meteoric material

Micrometeorites are small fragments of larger meteorites that have broken apart during entry into Earth’s atmosphere.  They are really quite easy to find, especially in areas where rain occurs more than just a few times per year.  Micrometeorites are found in deserts as well, but finding them becomes more difficult.  Rain allows them to be rinsed from the roof of a house and concentrated wherever the gutters empty.  No or little rain means less gutter deposits.   So, how do we begin collecting these cool nuggets of science fact?  Grab a Ziploc bag, a small magnet, a spoon or small spade, and a wide-eyed little boy or girl.  Prepare to discover something just as cool as a good sci-fi flick.

To begin, go outside and find the spillway of one of your house gutters.  There is normally a patch of dirt and somewhat rocky-looking debris.  Scoop a small sample of this into the Ziploc bag with the spoon.  Take the sample to the deck or inside the house; just be certain you have a good work area to begin your exploration of the sample.  Dump the sample onto a paper plate or paper towel.  If the sample is wet, allow it to dry for a few minutes.  Once dry, take the magnet and pass it over the sample.  Be careful to avoid touching the sample directly.  What you are looking for are small rock-like particles which will begin to “leap” onto the magnet.  These little rocks are made up of mostly iron, an element not normally found on top of the soil.  It is, however, a primary ingredient in most micrometeorites.  Congratulations!  You have now discovered your own little samples of out-of-this-world rocks.  If for some reason you did not find any micrometeorites, try another location using the same technique.  Eventually, you will find some.  It’s a great way to spend a couple of hours teaching your kids a little science.  Eat your heart out, Mr. Spock!

Source: Science Teacher Man  

How Much Is A Meteorite Worth?

A Guide to Buying, Selling and Collecting Meteorites
 
It seems hardly a day goes by at the Aerolite Meteorites offices without someone telephoning or emailing us to ask “How much is a meteorite worth?” Sometimes it is someone who thinks he or she might have found a meteorite; sometimes it is a person interested in starting a meteorite collection.

There is no easy answer, and one might just as well ask how much a piece of jewelry is worth, or what is the value of an original piece of art. The answer could be a few dollars, or a few thousand.

METEORITE VALUES

The value of a meteorite is typically determined by many different factors, including rarity of type, condition, size, and aesthetic appeal. In most cases, a meteorite that has been properly classified and named by a recognized academic institution has a higher monetary value than an unclassified specimen.

This is partly due to the fact that once a new meteorite has been studied and accepted into the existing body of scientific literature, it has a pedigree and provenance, and any prospective buyer can read details about that meteorite in a recognized academic publication, such at The Meteoritical Bulletin. It is also important to make new finds available to the scientific community for study.

HOW MUCH DOES A METEORITE COST?

At the low end of the pricing scale are ordinary chondrites. All meteorites are rare, so the term “ordinary” can be a little misleading to the beginning collector. Ordinary chondrites, or OCs, are the most abundant type of meteorite, but they are still much rarer than gold. Chondrites contain chondrules, which pre-date the formation of the solar system we know today. Chondrites were once part of the crust of a large asteroid or planet, and are undifferentiated. In other words, their ancient chondrules have not been altered by heat or pressure.

During the 1990s large numbers of ordinary chondrites (along with rarer types of meteorites) were found in the hot deserts of North Africa. Many of these stones were discovered by wandering nomads, so the exact find locations will never be known. Stones that were found in the African deserst and have not been studied by academia are described as unclassified Northwest African stones, or NWA XXX. Meteorites are typically sold by weight, and dealers use the metric systems of weights and measures. Nice examples of NWA stones can be purchased for about US$0.50 to $1.00 per gram. Complete stones that were not damaged on impact, or by subsequent weathering, or freshly fallen stones exhibiting a black fusion crust are typically more valuable.

Meteorites that were seen to fall to earth by a credible observer are described as witnessed falls, and they usually command a higher price on the collectors’ market than finds. Witnessed falls, and rare and some collectors are particularly interested in owning a meteorite that fell on his or her birthday.

Popular examples of witnessed falls include the Gao-Guenie stone meteorite, which fell in Burkina Faso, Africa in 1960 and the Millbillillie meteorite, a very rare type of achondrite known as a eucrite. Attractive Gao-Guenie specimens usually retail for about $2/gram, while high quality Millbillillies are worth about $25/gram. Eucrites are essentially volcanic rocks that originate from a large asteroid, and they do not contain chondrules.

COLLECTING IRON METEORITES

Iron meteorites were once part of the molten core of a large planet or asteroid, and often exhibit fantastic shapes created as they flew, melting through our atmosphere. One of the most popular irons among collectors is the Campo del Cielo iron meteorite from Argentina. Enthusiasts nickname them “Campos,” and a nice hand specimen can easily be obtained for $100 or less. Larger, high quality specimens typically sell for $200 to $300 per kilogram. So, if a collector is willing to spend $1,000 he or she can obtain an impressive tabletop display specimen.

Another extremely popular space rock is the Sikhote-Alin iron meteorite, a witnessed fall that occurred in a remote part of Siberia in 1947. Sikhote-Alins are among the most aesthetically beautiful of all meteorites and display remarkable surface features such as regmaglypts (thumbprints), orientation, flow lines, and rollover lips.

Many specimens look like small abstract sculptures, naturally crafted by the elements. Top quality Sikhote-Alins sell for about $3/gram, while shattered and torn pieces created by fragmentation in the atmosphere are known as shrapnel, and typically can be purchased for about $0.80 to $1/gram.

MOON AND MARS ROCKS

At the high end of the pricing scale are pieces of the planet Mars, and our own moon. Meteorites land on other astral bodies, just as they land on earth. Sometimes these impacts will throw fragments into space, and some of those pieces may eventually collide with our own planet, resulting in meteorites from the moon and Mars.

These extremely rare specimens are of great value to both academia and collectors, and may sell for as much as $1,000/gram.

 STARTING A METEORITE COLLECTION
Fairly often, a new enthusiast will ask us for advice about how to start a collection. Some beginners like to start their meteorite collection with one example from each of the three main groups of meteorites: stones, irons, and stony-irons. When someone asks me “What would make a good first meteorite,” I often recommend an example of the Campo del Cielo iron, or the famous Canyon Diablo iron meteorite from Arizona. Both are affordable iron meteorites, and both are of historic significance. Campo is one of the oldest-known meteorites; it was first discovered by the Spanish in 1576. Canyon Diablo is associated with the famous Meteor Crater in northern Arizona — universally regarded as the best preserved impact crater on earth.

WHERE AND HOW TO BUY METEORITES
We strongly recommend buying from established, respected dealers. There are many fakes and frauds out there, and I know several collectors who have been duped into buying ordinary earth rocks by unscrupulous or uneducated sellers. Buying on eBay can be very risky. Every time I look on eBay I see meteorites that have been described or advertised incorrectly, and there are always several “meteorites” being offered for sale that are out and out fakes, or as we like to call them — meteorwrongs.

We are professional members in good standing of the International Meteorite Collectors’ Association (IMCA) and we proudly display their logo on the front page of our website, and on our eBay auctions. All IMCA members are required to adhere to the very highest standards of honesty, fair trading, and integrity within the meteorite community. We stand behind the authenticity and quality of every single specimen we sell.

So, now that you have read about meteorite values and pricing, we invite you to visit our meteorites for sale catalogue. Every single specimen on the Aerolite Meteorites website has been personally examined and authenticated by meteorite hunter Geoffrey Notkin — the company owner, and a well known science author and authority on space rocks.

HOW TO FIND METEORITES
If you want to find your own meteorite we recommend the award-winning book Meteorite Hunting: How to Find Treasure from Space by Meteorite Men television host Geoffrey Notkin. In 16 chapters, Meteorite Hunting compares and explains different hunting strategies, examines strewnfields and craters, and discusses the best field equipment. It also clarifies the importance of research, advises prospective hunters how to go about gaining permission to hunt on private land, describes how meteorites are named and classified, and includes a fully illustrated visual guide to meteorite identification in the lab and in the field. Order online safely and easily 24/7 from our dedicated website. More >>>

HAVE YOU FOUND A METEORITE?
If you are reading this page because you think you may have found a meteorite, and would like to sell it, PLEASE read our Guide to Meteorite Identification and follow the instructions on that page BEFORE YOU CONTACT US.

 

ATLAS: The Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System

http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/press-releases/ATLAS/Tonry20-inch.jpg

ATLAS project head Dr. John Tonry with a conceptual drawing for an ATLAS telescope. The project would use two of these 20-inch telescopes. Credit: UH/IfA

In the realm of potential planetary disasters, asteroids are among the ones to fear — like the meteorite that hit Russia recently, they can inflict serious damage on Earth. With the aid of a $5-million grant from NASA, a University of Hawaii team of astronomers is developing ATLAS, a system to identify dangerous asteroids before their final plunge to Earth.

The team is on track to build and operate an asteroid detection system that will patrol the visible sky twice a night looking for faint objects moving through space. ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System) will operate up to 8 small telescopes, each fitted with cameras of up to 100 megapixels, on mounts housed at one or two locations in the Hawaiian Islands.

Astronomers expect the system to be fully operational by the end of 2015. Astronomer John Tonry compared ATLAS’s sensitivity to detecting a match flame in New York City when viewed from San Francisco. The team predicts the system will offer a one-week warning for a 50-yard diameter asteroid or “city killer” and three weeks for a 150 yard-diameter “county killer.”

“That’s enough time to evacuate the area of people, take measures to protect buildings and other infrastructure, and be alert to a tsunami danger generated by ocean impacts,” Tonry said. The typical asteroid is a “rubble pile” — a large collection of rocks and dust. Most asteroids reside in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, though some, called near-Earth objects, can orbit much closer to Earth.

Sometimes the gravitational tugs from the planets in the solar system send one of the asteroids on a collision course with Earth. Had the meteorite that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia, today arrived at Earth at a different time of day, it could have hit Moscow, Belfast, Dublin or any number of other cities with a latitude similar to that of Chelyabinsk.

Had the much larger asteroid 2012 DA14 that coincidentally passed by Earth on the same day been the one that hit Chelyabinsk, the entire city would have been completely destroyed. Scientists estimate that such a “city killer” impacts Earth about once every few hundred years.The most recent such impact occurred about 103 years ago — the Tunguska impact — in Siberia.

ATLAS will complement the Institute for Astronomy’s Pan-STARRS project, a system that searches for large “killer asteroids” years, decades, and even centuries before impact with Earth. Whereas Pan-STARRS takes a month to complete one sweep of the sky in a deep but narrow survey, ATLAS will search the sky in a closer and wider path to help identify the smaller asteroids that hit Earth much more frequently.

Funding from NASA’s Near Earth Observation Program will provide $5 million over five years with $3.5 million designated for design and construction in the first three years and the remainder for operating the system in the following two years.

As well as searching for asteroids, ATLAS will also look for dwarf planets, supernova explosions, and flashes of light that occur when a star is gobbled up by a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy. Source: Uni of Hawaii