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Meteors

Your magnetism check is a good start to confirming a meteorite find. I suggest you take your sample to the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center in Manhattan. There are additional tests necessary, specifically a test for nickel, that will help confirm a genuine meteorite. The museum should be equipped to help confirm your find.

If the museum confirms you have a meteorite, they will probably ask to study it. After they have determined the type of meteorite, the rarity of the type of meteorite will determine your sample's value.

Don't be disappointed if you don't have a meteorite. There are many meteor-wrongs that look and pass some of the tests that meteorites pass.

Stephen Edberg
Astronomer
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of Technology

Find dates and other information about meteor showers on this site.

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Several "shooting stars" or meteors per hour can usually be seen on any given night. Sometimes the number of meteors increases dramatically: these are termed "meteor showers" and occur at regular intervals throughout the year.

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There are many meteor showers throughout the year, but if tonight is not the date for an annual meteor shower you can still view several meteors per hour each and every night.

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Meteor showers are best viewed between the hours of midnight and dawn; however, there is a peak just before dawn.

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Yes and no: Meteors are called "shooting stars," but meteors are not stars. Meteors are little chunks of debris that disintegrate in our atmosphere and produce a fiery streak in the sky.

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Meteorites are pieces and bits of space material found on the surface of the Earth or another planet.

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Little chunks of orbiting rock and debris in space are called meteoroids. They become meteors -- or shooting stars -- when they fall through a planet's atmosphere. Pieces that survive the journey and hit the ground are called meteorites.

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Yes. Since 1976, the Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET) has recovered more than 10,000 meteorite specimens from Antarctica, and 16 of those are believed to have originated from the planet Mars.

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Yes, on Mars. NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity found an iron meteorite on Mars, the first meteorite of any type ever identified on another planet.

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The Quadrantids in January, the Perseids in August and the Geminids in December are considered to be the best meteor showers.

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Meteor showers are usually named after a star or constellation which is close to the radiant (the position from which the meteors appear to come). So, the Ursids are named after the constellation Ursa Minor.

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The Leonid-MAC missions (1998-2002) were airborne missions sent to study meteors.

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Being hit by a meteorite is rare. However, there are a few instances: In Nakhla, Egypt (1911) a shower of stones allegedly killed a dog. And in 1954 a woman was severely bruised by an eight pound stony meteorite that crashed through the roof of her home in Alabama.

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Meteors probably come from within our own solar system, rather than interstellar space. They may share a common origin with the asteroids or comets.

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Last Updated: 3 Feb 2014