From the September 1999 issue

I think I found a meteorite. How can I find out if it is indeed a meteorite?

Dave Ayala, Fullerton, California
By | Published: September 1, 1999 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
May 1998
Meteorites often look different from the rocks that surround them. They often look black because of the presence of a fusion crust, the result of surface melting caused by friction as they plunge through our atmosphere. The flight through the atmosphere may also cause bowl-shaped depressions or thumbprinting (regmagyphts) of the surface. And, because almost all meteorites contain iron, they feel heavy for their size and will attract a magnet.

So if you find a black, heavy rock that looks different than surrounding rocks — perhaps with a thumbprinted surface, and attracts a magnet — you may have discovered a meteorite! If you think you have, visit your nearest museum that has meteorites on display, or send it or a portion of it (at least several grams) to:

The Institute of Meteoritics
Department of Geology
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
or Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
Space Sciences Building
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721