The first pieces of a meteor that crashed to Earth in Michigan last week have been found. The meteor was sighted by many of the state’s residents on Tuesday night. According to NASA scientists, the meteor broke apart about 20 miles over Earth. Most of the fragments are believed to have landed in Hamburg Township.
Professional hunters Larry Atkins and Robert Ward of Arizona located the first fragments. Ward and Atkins found the fragments near a frozen lake called Whitmore Lake. According to Atkins, the fragments they found might sell for about $100 per gram. Atkins owns Cosmic Connection Meteorites. Ward operates Robert Ward Meteorites.
Another team from Longway Planetarium and the Farmington Community Stargazer have also located three meteorites that’ll be put on display. Seismic data, Doppler radar and witness information were used to narrow down where to search. NASA estimates that the meteor was about 6 feet wide.
A meteoroid is a small chunk of asteroid or comet. It becomes a meteor, fireball or shooting star when it enters Earth’s atmosphere. The pieces of rock that hit the ground are meteorites. Ward estimates he’s collected about 600 meteorites from around the world over the years.
Meteorites are valuable to collectors. Darryl Pitt, a meteorite consultant to Christie’s auction house, is offering $20,000 for a recovered fragment weighing at least 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds). Christie’s is coincidentally scheduled to hold a meteorite auction in two weeks’ time. As of this writing, there have been no finds that qualify for the reward.
Pitt grew up in Michigan and attended the University of Michigan. Pitt said, “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.” He continued, “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.” Meteorite hunters must seek permission from landowners before searching on their property.