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The hunt is on for meteorites in Michigan

Jan 19, 2018

Two meteorites on display at the Sloan Longway Planetarium in Flint
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Livingston County's Hamburg Township is expected to be swarming with meteorite hunters this weekend.

People have found more than a half-dozen suspected fragments from a meteor that streaked through the night sky early this week.

NASA scientists say the 6-foot-wide (2 meters) meteor broke apart about 20 miles (32 kilometers) over Earth Tuesday. Most of the fragments landed in Hamburg Township.

A meteoroid is a small chunk of asteroid or comet. When it enters Earth's atmosphere it becomes a meteor, fireball or shooting star. The pieces of rock that hit the ground are meteorites, and are valuable to collectors. The remnants must be analyzed by a lab to be accredited as meteorites.

Tony Licata is a meteorite hunter. He’s already found one possible piece of the meteor and he’ll be back out this weekend.

“The time is right, right now, while it’s cold, and these lakes are still frozen to get out on the lakes. Because once they thaw, those rocks are all lost,” says Licata.

Licata says there are probably meteorites in nearby woods, but those rocks will be harder to find.

He declines to put a price on the meteorite he found.

“At this point, there’s eight of them in existence. They’re pretty rare right now,” says Licata. “If that number persists, and people don’t start finding more of these that would raise their value I would think substantially. Because people are going to want to have a piece of the Michigan meteor.”

Licata doesn’t plan on selling the meteorite he found this week. He says it’s priceless.