Last week I shared with you a story about a stay-at-home mom who recently found a $20,000 meteorite while walking the dog.
But, did you know that there are people who hunt for meteorites for a living? And that they’re making thousands of dollars every year by reselling them to collectors?
Yes, meteorite hunting is a real thing…
It’s sort of like a modern-day treasure hunt and estimates vary, but there are likely more than a few hundred professional and semi-professional meteorite hunters that travel the globe in search of the the hidden gems.
The profession has taken on even more attentions with recent TV shows like Meteorite Men on the Science Channel and Galatic Collissions on the Discovery Channel. But you don’t need to be a professional to partake…
Keep your eyes peeled, because just like the stay-at-home mom in Lotus, California, anyone can find a meteorite. And if you find one, it could easily be worth $20,000 or more!
I’m in….what should I be looking for?
Meteors enter the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds ranging from 31,000 to 100,000 miles per hour, so it’s no wonder that after entering our atmosphere they split into thousands of pieces and scatter all over the world.
Meteorites can be literally be found anywhere – the country, city, underwater, etc. (As I frantically try to remember where I stored my childhood rock collection…)
Most meteorites will contain a thin layer of black, green, brown or clear fusion crust, which can resemble the glaze you find on ceramic ware. It will usually have small cracks and a texture similar to leather.
About 90% of meteorites will attract a magnet so break out your refrigerator magnets and it give it a try. Meteorites are also much denser than ordinary rocks, so if you pick up a rock and it feels heavier than it should, there’s a chance you’ve found one.
A few other things to keep is mind…
Meteorites almost never have quartz.
Meteorites don’t look like river cobbles.
Meteorites almost never have bubbles.
I think I’ve found a meteorite, now what?
If your meteorite has passed the home inspection test, the next step is to have an expert take a look at it. Try taking it to a local geologist or a university professor for further inspection. Some professional hunters even recommending cutting off a piece with a hacksaw and sending it to one of the following institutions for classification.
As is the case with most collectibles, the value of a meteorite can vary greatly depending on the rarity of type and overall aesthetic appeal. A highly sought after meteorite can auction off for $50/gram, while rare examples of lunar and Martian meteorites may sell for $1,000/gram or more — almost twenty times the current price of gold!
However, there is a huge difference in the selling price between meteorites that have been classified and meteorites that have not (unclassified can sell for as little as .07 a gram!). If you’ve had your meteorite verified by an expert, the next step is to submit it to The Meteoritical Society for registration and classification.
Lastly, you need to find a place to sell your meteorite. My advice – stay away from Ebay! In addition to the costly listing/selling fees, you’re dealing with a group of buyers who might not fully appreciate the value of what you’re selling. Instead look for a high-profile auction house like Sotheby’s or Bonham. Sure, the commission fees are usually around 20%, but you’ll end up making a lot more in the long run.
Your turn: Have you ever found a meteorite? Do you think you’ll keep a look out now?
Bonus Question: I thought this was cool, so I wanted to pass it along. Do you know what the difference between a meteor, meteorite, and meteoroid is? Look in the comments below for the answer. 🙂
Good luck Penny Hoarders!