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Thread: Is my Meteorite worth Anything?

  1. #1
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    Is my Meteorite worth Anything?

    I have a meteorite that my dad found a few years ago while hunting in upstate New York. It's about the size of a child's fist and has the look of pumice. It also has some slivers of wood embedded in it; it clipped off a bunch of tree branches as it fell.

    Is this thing worth anything - either scientifically or monetarily? Who would I contact to find out more?

    Thanks for any replies.

  2. #2
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    It does not sound like a meteorite, likely it is something else.

    You can take it, or a small piece of it, to a collector or a university that specializes, and they can validate it.

    You might want to get a book on meteorites in the library first, and see if it looks like any of the pictures in the book.

  3. #3
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    It looks like the one on the left in this picture: http://www.meteorites.com/

    It definitely fell from the sky. My dad found it at the base of a tree after seeing a bunch of branches that were sheared from the trunk - hence the wood splinters embedded in it. I'm not aware of any active volcanoes in upstate New York :wink: , so I must consider that it is likely a meteorite.

    Can anyone recommend a University or museum near me (northern NH) that could tell me more? I really don't want to go through one of these internet merchants.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    It looks like the one on the left in this picture: http://www.meteorites.com/

    It definitely fell from the sky. My dad found it at the base of a tree after seeing a bunch of branches that were sheared from the trunk - hence the wood splinters embedded in it. I'm not aware of any active volcanoes in upstate New York :wink: , so I must consider that it is likely a meteorite.

    Can anyone recommend a University or museum near me (northern NH) that could tell me more? I really don't want to go through one of these internet merchants.
    Wood cannot become imbedded in a meteorite. The melting surface of the meteorite is less than a millimeter thick.

    There are only extremely rare meteorites with vaccules. Vaccules are tiny bubbles of air or gasses. No meteorites look like pumice.

    Lots of rocks look like the pictures of meteorites but don't look like in person views.

    Is it attracted by a magnet?
    Is it exceptionally heavy?
    Can you see metal in it or is it mostly metal?
    Does it have a fusion crust? Fusion crust looks like some volcanic rock surfaces but only the thinnest bit of the surface looks like it melted.

    Try to find a nearby museum or University with meteorite samples. Many Universities have a prof. or two that will look at it for you. Sometimes they are in the geology department rather than the astronomy department.

    I'm having a hard time picturing the 'wood embedded' thing. Could you describe the rock in more detail?

  5. #5
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    It could just be a piece of slag.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    It looks like the one on the left in this picture: http://www.meteorites.com/

    It definitely fell from the sky. My dad found it at the base of a tree after seeing a bunch of branches that were sheared from the trunk - hence the wood splinters embedded in it.
    Well, last time I was in New York, I threw a lot of rocks at trees. Hopefully the two aren't connected :P

  7. #7
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    I was just reminded of it as I read about the big meteor sighting in Washington state. Unfortunately, I moved recently and can't seem to remember where I put the damn thing! Probably, it's in one of those boxes in the attic - arrrg. When I find it I'll post a photo.

    It is rather heavy and does have what you might call a "fusion crust". When I said it looks like pumice, I meant that it has some bubble type structures - it's definitely much heavier than pumice though.

    It has wood specks on it because, as previously mentioned, it hit a tree as it fell. That's how my dad found it: he saw this tree with a bunch of limbs clipped off of one side and thought "What the heck did that?" (In the santized version). He then found this 'object' at the base of the tree. He wouldn't make that up.

    I've come to expect an obscene level of scepticism on this board, but the question is: how does slag fall outta the sky? Blame Canada, eh?

  8. #8
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    Well, the short answer is, yes, if it is a meteorite then it is worth something.

    You'll still have to take it to an expert, though, to get it verified. We can't know for sure what you have from the textual description.

    I know that some of the books on meteorites in the library list contacts or resources for getting an expert opinion.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    It looks like the one on the left in this picture: http://www.meteorites.com/
    If it looks like that, there is a good chance that it is a meteorite but there is room for doubt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    Can anyone recommend a University or museum near me (northern NH) that could tell me more? I really don't want to go through one of these internet merchants.
    As near as I can tell, there is no institution near you, so to speak. The only institution, "near" you was UN @ Durham and they didn't have much. So I shot over to Harvard, near Boston, and had a look around. I didn't have time to do a thorough search but you may find someone at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who can either help you or point you to someone who can. Try here http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/cfa/ps/mpc.html The HCfAP is a world class institution, so you may have a hard time getting a response. Remember that persistance pays.

    If it turns out that you really have a meteorite, it may be worth about $100 per ounce. I attend star parties and other astronomy based gatherings and that seems to be about the going retail rate. Yours' may be worth more or less depending on variables I don't understand, so I suggest you ask around.

    Good Luck!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    ...I've come to expect an obscene level of scepticism on this board, but the question is: how does slag fall outta the sky? Blame Canada, eh?
    :wink: Hey we're friendly up here, we don't throw that many rocks at our US neighbors.

  11. #11
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    Thanks to all, especially to Russ.

    I think I'll try someone at Dartmouth. My sister lives near there, and I imagine they must have a geology department.

    Now, if I can just find it!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    I was just reminded of it as I read about the big meteor sighting in Washington state. Unfortunately, I moved recently and can't seem to remember where I put the damn thing! Probably, it's in one of those boxes in the attic - arrrg. When I find it I'll post a photo.
    Wouldn't you know it? I hope you find it because now I'm curious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    It is rather heavy and does have what you might call a "fusion crust". When I said it looks like pumice, I meant that it has some bubble type structures - it's definitely much heavier than pumice though.
    If those bubble type structures are just on the surface and look like part of the fusion crust, that could be a meteorite. If they are larger, like thumb prints, that could be a meteorite. If they are tiny and through and through, like volcanic rocks, that probably won't be a meteorite.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    It has wood specks on it because, as previously mentioned, it hit a tree as it fell. That's how my dad found it: he saw this tree with a bunch of limbs clipped off of one side and thought "What the heck did that?" (In the santized version). He then found this 'object' at the base of the tree. He wouldn't make that up.
    Didn't think he made it up. I did wonder though, how he was sure the rock caused the tree damage? Wood specks are different from what I pictured when you said pieces of wood. Wood specks in a real meteorite from crashing through a tree would make it very unusual and therefore more valuable. The car the Peekskill Meteorite fell through sold for 20 or 30 thousand US dollars. I wonder if the tree is still there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    I've come to expect an obscene level of scepticism on this board, but the question is: how does slag fall outta the sky? Blame Canada, eh?
    Skepticism is not a bad thing. [-X

    No doubt there are many unrecognized meteorites lying about in people's rock collections. But they are still quite unusual finds. I have several purchased meteorites and quite a few very unusual rocks that weren't meteorites but were definitely close enough to take to the U of WA to have them looked at. That's where I found the geology dept was more help than the astronomy department.

    No matter what it is, it's still great fun to examine an unusual rock. I have lots of fantastic rocks that aren't meteorites and I love them just as much. :P

    As to value, nickel-irons are the least valuable. A hand size rock with an intact fusion crust would be somewhere between $500 and $1,000. The same size meteorite but of Martian origin might be $40,000 to $50,000 depending on how you sliced and sold it. Lunar rocks are more valuable. The Alan Hills meteorite that might have Martian microfossils would probably auction off for millions if it were ever sold.

    You can look on the net for meteorites for sale and get a good idea.

    Keep us posted.

  13. #13
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    Hi-

    First off, I'll say that the vast majority of people who think they have found a meteorite really haven't. This is just to prepare you in case it isn't.

    Here is a site about false meteorites, and here is a guide to figuring out if you have a meteorite or not.

    I know a little about this; I collect iron meteorites. Do you have an image of it you could post here, or link to? I'd like to see it. I also have a friend who is an expert; I could send it to him, or send him here to this board to take a look.

  14. #14
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    Aaarg. This is becoming a sore subject with me, as I spent an hour up in the attic (phew is it HOT up there!) going through boxes trying to find it - no luck. I did find a lot of stuff that will soon be posted on ebay, however. :-? There are many more boxes to go. I'll post a pict when I find it. It's one of those things that I put in a 'special' place when I was moving and then promptly forgot where that was! Yes, I am a moron.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krevel
    Aaarg. This is becoming a sore subject with me, as I spent an hour up in the attic (phew is it HOT up there!) going through boxes trying to find it - no luck. I did find a lot of stuff that will soon be posted on ebay, however. :-? There are many more boxes to go. I'll post a pict when I find it. It's one of those things that I put in a 'special' place when I was moving and then promptly forgot where that was! Yes, I am a moron.
    Don't beat yourself up too much about it, we all do that sort of thing. I have a prestine handmade clay ink-bottle that I haven't seen for 20 years somewhere. It's still in a box after a move, lol.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Bad Astronomer
    Hi-

    First off, I'll say that the vast majority of people who think they have found a meteorite really haven't. This is just to prepare you in case it isn't.

    Here is a site about false meteorites, and here is a guide to figuring out if you have a meteorite or not.

    I know a little about this; I collect iron meteorites. Do you have an image of it you could post here, or link to? I'd like to see it. I also have a friend who is an expert; I could send it to him, or send him here to this board to take a look.
    Gee thanks, Phil. Those are the best ID sites I've seen.

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