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Meteorite Collecting

Updated on February 20, 2015

The Art of Collecting Meteorites

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Meteorites

Meteorites are objects that have come to earth from space. They were once part of an asteroid or a comet. Regardless of their origin, once they land they are called meteorites.

While they are still in the atmosphere, they are properly called meteors.

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Meteorite Collecting

Collecting meteorites can be a great hobby, and can even be profitable. Meteorites often bring in nice prices when sold. Let’s face it, meteorites cannot be manufactured, and they are in limited supply. So, collectors often pay a premium for genuine meteorites.

Types of Meteorites

Not all meteorites are the same. They come in both the rocky and the metallic types.

They are found by being where naturally occurring minerals similar to them are not found. For example, they can easily be identified if they were on the surface of the Antarctica ice sheet. Only an object falling from above could be there, so any rock found under such circumstances must be a meteorite. Another source is when a large meteor explodes into many smaller pieces. These pieces, all with similar composition, fall along the path of the meteor that exploded. Concentrations of similar rocks where a fireball passed are generally considered authentic meteorites.

What Is a Meteorite?

An object that falls to Earth from outer space is called a meteorite. Few make it. Most vaporize in the atmosphere where friction heats them. While in the atmosphere, they are called meteors.

In outer space they may originate from asteroids or comets, or perhaps from Mars. Martian meteorites are rare, and are the result of past volcanic activity.

Asteroids originate in the asteroid belt, a band of objects between Mars and Jupiter. Collisions and gravitational forces cause some of these objects to stray, and they may be captured by the Earth.

Comets have ice and rocky parts. When the rocky parts leave the comet they are free to roam the solar system. Occasionally, the Earth captures these comet fragments. Meteor showers occur when the Earth goes through an old comet orbit. These comet orbits often have debris strewn along them.

Whether from an asteroid or a comet, meteorites can often be dated to the orgins of the solar system, about 4,500,000,000 years ago.

The Art of Collecting Meteorites Book

What Is Tektite?

Tektite is a teardrop shaped rock, usually black or green, that appears to have solidified from a melted rock raining down. Two theories exist as to their origin. One is that they were meteors that melted and later solidified. This is the weaker theory. More likely is that a meteor hit the ground and melted the sandy ground itself, throwing it up into the air. As it cooled, it solidified into the shape of teardrops. The shape is due to friction, and is the same cause of the shape of raindrops.

Tektite, and impactite, grains of sandy substances that melt and glue together, are thought to be evidence of an impact of a meteor with the Earth, but are not considered to be meteors themselves.

Some Meteorites Have Great Value

There is a great demand for meteorites by both collectors and scientists.

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    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Nice, not least because I managed 100%!