Meteorite Hunters Find First Fragments of Michigan Meteor

Meteorite Hunters Find First Fragments of Michigan Meteor
Three meteorites are on display Friday at Longway Planetarium in Flint. (Photo Credit: Ian Wood)

Meteorite hunters have found the first pieces of the fireball that streaked across the sky in Michigan this week.

The first fragments were located Thursday by professional hunters Larry Atkins and Robert Ward of Arizona, according to the American Meteor Society. Atkins owns Cosmic Connection Meteorites, while Ward operates Robert Ward Meteorites.

"It's a really spectacular specimen," Ward said while holding one of the meteorites. "Two days ago, this was hundreds of thousands of miles past the moon, and now I'm standing here holding it in my hand. It's been a real good day."

Ward said he used seismic data, Doppler radar and witness information to narrow down where to search. Meteorite hunters seek permission from landowners before searching on their property, Ward said.

“We knew we were in the right spot,” Atkins said. “In 15 minutes or less I found No. 2. After that, I found the third maybe an hour or so later.”

The trio ended up netting six fragments — which American Meteor Society officials believe are the first of the much-sought-after meteorites to be found in the region.

A meteoroid is a small chunk of asteroid or comet. When it enters Earth's atmosphere it becomes a meteor, fireball or shooting star. The pieces of rock that hit the ground are meteorites, and are valuable to collectors. The remnants must be analyzed by a lab to be accredited as meteorites.

$20000 reward offered for a 1-kilo chunk of Michigan meteorite

Darryl Pitt, a New York City resident and meteorite consultant to Christie's auction house, is offering $20,000 for a recovered fragment weighing at least 1 kilogram.

"I want to motivate more people to look," Pitt said. "Meteorites are extraordinarily rare and the world is just coming to terms with how special they are."

"It's better to go out there and find them sooner, because the longer they're on the ground, the more they tend to blend in with Earth rocks," said Pitt, one of the largest private collectors of meteorites in the world. "I really want this to be found and the only way that's going to happen is if there are more boots on the ground."

NASA indicated Wednesday that meteorites could be located in an area west of Hamburg Township in Livingston County. William Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, Alabama, believes meteorites may have landed in a 2.5-mile area west of the township.

In the end, both Pitt and Cooke would like to remind everybody they must always ask permission from the owners if their search leads them to private properties. You can contact Pitt via his email or at 917-213-8265.
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