Maine Museum Offers $20,000 for Meteorite

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If whatever caused the fireball that streaked across the skies over New England and parts of Canada early Tuesday morning is indeed a meteorite, it could yield a hefty payout for whoever finds it.

The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum is offering $20,000 in exchange for any chunk of the space rock weighing more than one kilogram. Along with the cash, whoever finds the meteorite can drop by the museum in Bethel and see it enshrined in the esteemed Meteorite Hall.

The American Meteor Society says the fireball was reported around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday and visible from Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as Canada.

Portsmouth astronomer Tom Cocchiaro, a member of the New Hampshire Astronomical Society, told the Associated Press that the fireball’s green glow could be caused either by the copper found in space debris, or the nickel found in meteorites.

“It probably hit the ground somewhere,” Cocchiaro said. “It could’ve gone across quite a large area across the earth and it could’ve been hundreds of miles away.”

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum director Barbra Barrett pins the meteoroid’s “terminal explosion” about 30 kilometers west of Rangeley, Maine, a resort town with a population just over 1,000.

“As fireball observations go, this one was huge and a similarly huge reward awaits a lucky resident (who found it),” she said in a release. “Extraterrestrial treasure hunters are encouraged to first go to meteorite identification sites on the internet so they know what they’re looking for. Based on the number of bursts in the sky, a number of meteorites may have made it to Earth.”

So get out there, folks.