Tools for Meteorite Hunting

by Carla Jean McKinney
Meteorites can be found almost everywhere on Earth.

Meteorites can be found almost everywhere on Earth.

Chad Baker/Photodisc/Getty Images

Meteorites -- the remnants of meteors that have struck the Earth -- can be found all over the world, and meteorite hunters continue to find new specimens for private collections, sale and show. Combining hiking, rock-hunting and tracking skills, meteorite hunting is open to anyone with a good eye and a few basic pieces of equipment. A meteorite stick, metal detector and small pickax are essential tools for finding and collecting these visitors from the cosmos, while a GPS device and a camera help to record the find.

The Meteorite Stick

A meteorite stick helps to locate meteors on the surface of the Earth. Similar to a golf club with a magnet in place of the club's head, the stick can be swept over a selected area, attracting iron-bearing meteorite fragments. Meteorite sticks can be handmade by attaching a large magnet to a dowel or even a broom handle, or purchased from vendors dedicated to rock and meteorite hunting.

Metal Detectors

A metal detector helps to find meteorites buried deeper under surface sand and dirt. Not all metal detectors are appropriate for meteor hunting; serious meteorite hunters prefer higher-quality devices sensitive enough to detect gold. Unlike less-expensive detectors that find materials only close to the surface, a good gold-sensitive detector can locate meteorites at greater depths. These types of detectors also have filters that can be adjusted to find specific kinds of metals, such as the iron in meteorites.

Pickax or Digging Tool

Since most hunters want to add meteorites to their personal collection or sell them, another key piece of equipment is a pickax or other digging tool to remove the meteorite. This tool should have a sharp point for extracting meteorite finds from surrounding rock and dirt, and be small enough to carry along with other basic outdoor gear suitable to the location.

Recording the Find: Cameras and GPS Devices

In finding meteorites around the world, meteorite hunters also contribute to the study of meteors and our planet. As an aid to research on meteorites and meteor strikes, serious meteorite hunters recommend that before extracting a meteorite from its resting place, hunters should record the coordinates of the find and photograph the meteorite in situ. For these purposes, a GPS device that records coordinates and a good-quality digital camera can be useful additions to the meteorite-hunting tool kit.

Photo Credits

  • Chad Baker/Photodisc/Getty Images