Astronomy Learning and Research

Who Owns A Meteorite?

MeteoriteIf you’ve read our Hunting for Meteorites adventure (if you haven’t you should!) you know that we did our best to have a successful meteorite hunting trip.  Lynn downloaded a map of the strewn field and researched which tools would be most useful.  I – well I think I just booked the hotel, but somebody had to do it!

With GPS in hand we ventured down to the Madison area and proceeded to spend hours and hours dragging rare earth magnets around behind us, looking at anything that resembled a meteorite. We left no stone unturned at parks, along roadsides and even in cemeteries with no luck.

After the meteorite exploded over Russia, I read stories about people collecting pockets full of meteorites hoping to sell them. One woman made the comment, though, that the Russian police would just come and take them away anyway. It made me wonder, what if Lynn and I had found that elusive rock we know is still down there some where? Who would own it?

It seems that, in Russia, the government determines who can sell a meteorite. Here in the U.S., a meteorite belongs to whoever owns the land it falls on. That means that if  a meteorite lands in the middle of a city park, the city would own it. So after all of our trudging down county roads and through parking lots and parks, if we had come up with a piece of space rock it technically wouldn’t belong to us anyway!

That won’t stop me from looking. I still want to make that find. But it would be so much easier if one just fell through my roof, or on top of my car!

The odds of that are – well – astronomical!

(Sorry about that)


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