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Meteorite Hunter Finds Pieces of Mysterious Michigan Meteor

“ We are happy and excited to report, two meteorites from the Jan 16th fall have been found in Michigan today. Congratulations to Robert Ward and Larry Atkins on the first two reported finds.
— AMSMETEORS (@amsmeteors) January 18, 2018”

Let’s get to the big news first. Did you know you can make money hunting for meteorite fragments? According to the Detroit Free Press, Darryl Pitt, a meteorite consultant to Christie’s auction house, is offering $20,000 for 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of recovered meteorite – whole or pieces. Not bad work if you can find it … and if you’re interested in finding it, the place to look today is in Michigan – specifically, somewhere northwest of Detroit in Hamburg Township.

Tuesday’s news of a meteor passing over metro Detroit and exploding in the atmosphere over Livingston County has brought out meteorite hunters like Ward to search for the precious stones. NASA scientists say the meteor broke up about 20 miles over Earth and showered most of its fragments along a 2½-mile swath in the Hamburg Township area of Livingston County.

That’s where you’ll probably still find Robert Ward, owner of Robert Ward Meteorites, and Larry Atkins, owner of Cosmic Connection Meteorites, although neither gave the specific locations of where they found the fragments. (pictures here and video here) That’s most likely where you’ll also find Darryl Pitt, who will be looking as well as buying, as he told the Detroit Free Press.

“Meteorites are exceedingly rare. And every meteorite that’s found here, every single one, it’s gonna sell for at least its weight in gold.”

He’ll be looking for things that seem out of place in the environment, hoping to find pieces before the hordes of amateur hunters show up, especially when the weather warms up and the snow melts. If those finders can’t find Pitts, other buyers are setting up starting on Saturday at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, 39221 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills, which is on the north side of Detroit.

A meteorite sample, not one from Michigan.

Pitts’ offer of $20,000 for a kilo of meteorite breaks down to $20 a gram or $568 an ounce. While he didn’t give an exact weight, Ward said his specimen was about the size of a pecan and a halved pecan weighs about 1.5 grams, so he’s obviously not hunting meteorites just for the money.

“It’s a really spectacular specimen. 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 is also really good at it. He’s a freelance planetary field researcher and knew precisely where to look, finding his first piece just 15 minutes after he started looking.

“We had really good data on this one. The seismic data lined up with Doppler data and the witness data. Everything came together on this one.”

That seismic data – a 2.0 earthquake was felt as the meteorite passed over – had some conspiracy theorists questioning if this was a true meteorite or something else, since experts said it disintegrated in the atmosphere and made no earthquake-causing impact. It was later determined that the
atmospheric pressure wave generated when the meteor hit the atmosphere was what registered on the seismometers.

Or did it? What would be worth more – a kilo of meteor or a kilo of spaceship debris? Keep looking, people!


Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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