Though they may seem like something out of a science fiction movie, meteors are very real – and can cause some serious damage if they hit Earth.
Luckily, most meteors burn up in the atmosphere, but occasionally one does make it all the way to the ground.
These space rocks are called meteorites, and they can provide scientists with valuable information about the history of our solar system.
Here’s a quick guide for beginners on how to find them (10 tips) and what they’re worth.
How To Identify Meteorites
What are meteorites?
Meteorites are rocks that have come from space.
They are different from other rocks because they have been through the Earth’s atmosphere, which means they have been heated and melted.
Meteorites can be found anywhere in the world, but there are some areas where they are more common.
They can be identified by their unusual appearance and their weight, which is usually heavier than other rocks.
The history of meteorites
Meteorites have been around for as long as humans have looked up at the sky.
They are some of the oldest objects in the solar system, and scientists believe that they may have helped to form them.
Most meteorites are made of rock, but they can also be made of metal or ice.
Most meteorites that fall to Earth burn up in the atmosphere, but sometimes a large one will make it all the way to the ground.
When this happens, it’s called a meteorite fall.
Meteorite falls are rare, but they always get a lot of attention from scientists and collectors.
How valuable is a rare meteorite worth?
Meteorites are some of the most valuable objects in the world.
The most valuable meteorites are those that have been found to be from outer space.
These meteorites are called extra-terrestrial and are very rare.
Many people want to own a piece of extra-terrestrial meteorite, but it can be very expensive. Some meteorites have been sold for millions of dollars!
How do you sell a meteorite?
This can be a difficult question to answer, because there is no standard way to do it.
Some people sell them through auctions, while others sell them directly to collectors.
Some meteorites are sold in “meteorite shops” which you might find at a science museum or in popular tourist destinations.
The International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA) is an organization that provides information about collecting and selling meteorites.
The IMCA does not endorse any businesses, but they list the names of dealers who join the IMCA and who promise to follow the rules.
What is a meteor-wrong?
A meteor-wrong is an object that someone thinks might be a meteorite, but isn’t!
It’s easy to make this kind of mistake because many rocks look like space rocks.
Many people (even scientists) have been fooled in the past.
They thought they found a meteorite, only to find out later that it was just a regular Earth rock.
If you want to be sure your rock is really extra-terrestrial, don’t assume!
Check with scientists or experienced meteorite collectors for confirmation.
Here are 10 tips to help beginners find meteorites:
Go outside at night
Meteorites show up best in the dark without any competing light sources like street lamps or headlights.
Observe for patterns
If you see an object that seems out of place, like a rock moving through the sky, there might be something more going on than just your eyes playing tricks on you!
Watch the direction they’re coming from
Most meteor showers happen when Earth is passing through debris leftover by comets orbiting around our sun, so the best way to find them is to watch for objects coming from a certain direction.
Look at the stars
If you think you’ve spotted a meteorite, there might be a star or planet nearby that’s providing the light.
The North Star or Polaris is often used as a reference point in the northern hemisphere and can help with identifying other major stars and constellations.
Listen for sizzling
Sometimes meteorites give off a hissing sound when they pass through Earth’s atmosphere, called sputtering.
This is caused by the superheated gases creating a trail behind them, and many have been recovered with their exterior blackened from the heat.
Look for flat surfaces
Meteorites often have a texture of one or more flat planes that seem out of place, but the shape can vary depending on how they hit Earth.
Look for fusion crust
This is the rough, melted exterior caused by friction with Earth’s atmosphere that many meteorites have.
They’re often dark brown or black in color (and the temperature of the gas can vary).
Examine their surface
Meteorites often look like they’ve been burned or partially melted, but there are some exceptions to this rule.
Use a magnet
Meteorites are either made of rock, metal, or a combination of both. If your meteorite sticks to a magnet, it’s probably metal!
Ask an expert
If all else fails, find someone who knows more about space rocks than you do!
You can contact local colleges or even NASA if you think you’ve found a meteorite.
As you can see, it can be difficult to identify a meteorite without the help of an expert.
However, with a little bit of knowledge and some careful observation, you might just be able to find your very own piece of space!
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