Mike's Astro Photos
Jul.18 2009

How to find meteorites

by , under Mason Dixon Meteor

Looking for meteorites is a fun and pretty easy thing to do. Its a great activity to do with friends or children. The hard part is deciding where to look. Here are some instructions on how to look for meteorites that Meteor Hunter Steve Arnold sent me:

Step 1. Look downward for black rocks
Step 2. Repeat

Obviously he was kidding a little, but that really is about it. I researched this a little and came up with a few more tips:

1) Walk in a straight line across the property and scan a 4 foot wide area. After you get experienced you can try and open up that area wider, but its best to start with a small field of view.
2) You are looking for smooth heavy black magnetic rocks, there are some earth rocks that are black so don’t get too excited when you find your first black rock (it could be nothing). The blackness of the rock is called a “Fusion Crust” it forms on the rock due to the heat and friction the meteor faces when it enters the atmosphere. Some earth rocks are magnetic too, so don’t let this throw you off. If you aren’t sure keep the rock anyway. You can have someone look at it later to let you know for sure. If its heavy, smooth, black and magnetic there is a good chance its a meteor.
3) Because meteorites contain metal they can rust, they are also magnetic.
4) Once you’ve found a black rock pick it up and test it with a magnet. If its black and magnetic you could be in luck. It will also be very heavy and denser than a normal rock.
5) don’t go on private property without permission. This is a good way to get shot! Instead look in free places, like parks, parking lots and the side of the road (be careful not to get hit by a car!)
6) Magnet on a string is a good trick. Buy some donut shaped magnets at Radio Shack. Tie a string around them. As your walking around you can move the magnet over the rocks on the ground. This will save you time and pain of bending over or reaching down hundreds of times. You can also nail the magnet to the end of a walking stick. Or tie multiple magnets to a broom stick, attach it to a vehicle and then drag it across the property. If you are searching a big farm this is probably the best bet.
7) If you can afford it a metal detector is a valuable asset for meteorite hunting… But its not mandatory. Lots of meteorite hunters just use their eyes.
8 ) A strewn field is the area around an impact zone. This is were the most amount of meteorite rocks will be. This is what we are looking for in PA. I have talked to a lot of hunters and they tell me because of its size the strewn field for the Mason Dixon Meteor could have hundreds of meteorites in it.
9) Rocks From Space — is the best book about meteorite hunting if you want to learn more about it: 1
10) The meteorites from the Mason Dixon meteor will be very valuable, simply because there is a lot of interest in this story, the terrain is very difficult to search and its an east coast meteor. All of these factors make the Mason Dixon meteorites very rare, which will cause them to be more valuable. I’m not an expert or an appraiser, but I think these rocks will go for at least $100 a piece. The first few could fetch as much as $1000 a piece.

Good luck. If you find any of the Mason Dixon meteorites make sure you contact me. I will pay more for these rocks that any other buyer out there!


1 Comment for this entry

  • Mark

    Too bad slag collecting isn’t popular. Among all the galaxies, we’d have the market completely cornered in that.

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