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Tips Amateur Meteorite Hunters Need to Know!

Robert Ward displays one of two pieces of a meteorite he found at a park in Lotus, Calif., Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Meteorites are typically black and smooth, with small dimples. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

A fireball streaked across the sky at 10:45 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 18, about 75 kilometres above Port Dover, Ontario, before heading west and vanishing. Canadian and NASA researchers believe fragments of the rare meteorite may have touched down near St. Thomas, Ontario.

If you plan to hunt for this meteorite (or any meteorite!), here are a few things you should know:

1) What does a meteorite look like?
A meteorite looks like a smooth black rock with dimples. Its millimetre-thick crust is a result of the meteorite’s outer surface melting as it falls through the Earth’s atmosphere.

2) How will I know if I found a meteorite?
Meteorites look like rocks, but you won’t find them in the ground like other rocks—you’ll find them sitting on the surface of the ground, looking out of place.

3) Are meteorites magnetic?
Only some meteorites are able to attract fridge magnets.

4) Are they dangerous?
Falling meteorites are dangerous, but once they’ve landed, there’s no need to worry!

5) If I find a meteorite, does it belong to me?
Canadian law suggests that the meteorite belongs to the person who owns the property where the meteorite was found.