Meteorite hunters head to Alberta-Sask. border for 'Rockstock'

Space enthusiasts are heading to small communities on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border hoping for a chunk of the meteor that streaked across the prairie sky on Thursday night.

Space enthusiasts are heading to small communities near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border hoping for a chunk of the meteor that streaked across the prairie sky last Thursday night.

Well-known Arizona meteorite collector Robert Haag is offering $10,000 for the first one-kilogram chunk of the fallen meteor.

"The first piece that is found, I am immediately catching the first plane to Canada with a pocket full of money," he said Monday.

Haag, who suspects meteorites could be found somewhere in the Macklin, Sask., area near the Alberta border, said he won't be alone.

"It's a happening. It's like Woodstock. It's Rockstock," he said. "Take your trucks and campers, hitch up your horses, do what you need to do and let's find it."

Hundreds saw light in sky

From Edmonton to Edgeley, Sask., and points in-between, people reported a brilliant ball of light streaking across western Canadian skies Thursday. Hundreds flooded phone lines at police stations and media outlets with accounts of a multicoloured meteor.

University of Calgary planetary scientist Alan Hildebrand was also heading to Macklin this weekend to hunt for what he believes was a part of an asteroid, a small planetary body.

"You are talking about something, say, the size of a chair or a desk that entered the atmosphere."

Hildebrand, who is with a group of university scientists behind Prairie Meteorite Search, expects to find hundreds of meteorite pieces ranging in size from as big as an adult's head to as small as the tip of a finger.

Hildebrand said the pieces will likely be strewn over an area of five kilometres long and three kilometres wide.

"We have tens of thousands of meteorites, but we don't know where they come from," he said.

"The fun thing in this case would be that we have enough video records that if we find meteorites we'll know what orbit the rock fell from. That's only been done nine times before."

Looks like concrete

People in the Macklin area should be on the lookout for pieces of the meteorite, said Haag.

"It will look a lot like concrete that has been dipped in black paint, except that it would be really smooth," he said.

"People who live in the area, if they heard the sonic boom and felt the pressure wave, they were within a day's walk of where the thing fell."

Macklin is about 250 km west of Saskatoon and six km east of the Alberta-Saskatchewan  border.

Macklin Mayor Pat Doetzel said he's puzzled by the attention his small town has attracted. There's some talk that the meteor may have fallen closer to Manitou Lake, about 50 kilometres away.

However, despite the celestial light show Thursday, there's been no buzz around town that a meteorite might have landed close by, he said.

"I saw it too, that night," Doetzel said. "You could see the tail coming. It was as bright as day for a second. But there was no noise, just a massive light."

Still, as word gets around that a $10,000 bounty has been offered for a space rock, some local interest could be stirred up, he said.

"That might get the scavenger hunters out looking."

With files from Patti Edgar, Kevin O'Connor