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How do you identify a potential meteorite?

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How do you identify a potential meteorite? was created by Seanie_Morris

I have had a local on to me asking about a potential meteorite their son found recently. I have seen the pictures (not great ones, after 2 attempts I'm still trying to get some!), and it does look like it could be one. I have asked them to let me see it, but I was wondering what would be the next step to getting it identified? Ian Saunders in Trinity College? Natural History Museum?

Seanie.
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12 years 9 months ago #84467

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Replied by Frank Ryan on topic Re:How do you identify a potential meteorite?

Hi Seanie.
Mike O Connell gave a talk to SAC about Meteorites in Jan.
He has a collection also.
Seems the right man to ask first to me.
My Astrophotography
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12 years 9 months ago #84468

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Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Re:How do you identify a potential meteorite?

Thanks for the quick reply Frank. I have a couple pieces of space rock myself (one of which was given by Mike himself), and until I get my hands on this specific piece of stone, it does look like a meteorite. I think a number of us can make a very educated guess on it based on seeing and feeling, but to make sure it's not something like smelted slag or the like, it would have to be properly analysed I reckon...


...where to for that?
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Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.
12 years 9 months ago #84470

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Replied by phoenix on topic Re:How do you identify a potential meteorite?

Drop a note to David Asher at Armagh Observatory, he is bound to know who can do the mineralogy on the object. Don't have a direct e mai; but somebody on here should have one.
Kieran
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12 years 9 months ago #84471

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Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re:How do you identify a potential meteorite?

Seanie,

Armagh Observatory would be worth contacting for a definitive test. David Asher or Tolos would probably be the best people to contact there:
www.arm.ac.uk/staff/staff.html

Initial easy methods to help identify it are to check for a fusion crust and metal content. Fusion crust is a burnt layer on the outside from the object experiencing high temperatures during decent.

There are three types of meteorites:
Iron Meteorites
Stony Meteorites
Stony-Iron Meteorites

It would be worth checking if it is drawn to a rare earth magnet. Even if it is a stony meteorite, it will often have a certain metal content (a fridge magnet may not be powerful enough).

In a lab, they can cut a small slice off the corner of it and check it with a spectrometer. This can check for nickel content in the metal. If it is a stony meteorite, they can still do this test along with checking for chondrules and various minerals which may be present (such as olivine etc)

Hope this helps,

Michael
Last edit: 12 years 9 months ago by michaeloconnell.
12 years 9 months ago #84486

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Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Re:How do you identify a potential meteorite?

Thanks Mike, very detailed. Just what I'm looking for. Save me getting my hands on it, it does look like a stony meteorite. It has the smooth pitted surface and very dark in colour. From having a serious interest in rocks and minerology when I was a kid (yes, I collected among other things, rocks!), I think I can rule out slag and beach rock. I'll keep you all updated here.

Seanie.
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Radio Presenter (Midlands 103), Space Enthusiast, Astronomy Outreach Co-ordinator.
Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.
12 years 9 months ago #84492

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