Michigan was rocked by a blazing meteor on Tuesday night. An intense flash of light stunned residents and a loud boom shook local buildings.
A meteor had ripped through the skies above the state, with more than 355 sightings reported across six more—plus Ontario, Canada—according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).
A NASA meteor camera recorded the event at Oberlin College in Ohio. The video was posted to the NASA Meteor Watch Facebook page.
The rock likely disintegrated into lots of smaller pebbles called “meteorites” which scattered to the ground as the meteor fell apart.
NASA shared an image of the possible trajectory of the meteor, based on eyewitness testimonies sent to AMS. “It is likely that there are meteorites on the ground near this region,” read the Facebook photo caption. “One of our colleagues at [the Johnson Space Center] has found a Doppler weather radar signature characteristic of meteoritic material falling to earth.”
Local meteorologist Paul Gross recommends getting your hands on a metal detector in an article on local news website ClickOnDetroit. Armed, you should head to Livingston County or eastern Ingham County.
If you spy a suspicious-looking pebble, you can narrow down its origin by doing a few simple things. Gross lists three steps to test if a hunk of rock could actually have come from space. First, he wrote: “If it’s much heavier than you would otherwise expect, then that’s a good sign!”
Next, you should test your hunks of rock for magnetism, as meteorites usually contain iron. Gross wrote in a twitter post: “If you think you found one and it passes the magnetic test, let me know!”
NASA is also saying that pieces may have made it to the ground west of Howell. If you go searching, use a metal detector…meteorites have metal in them. Also, they’re magnetic. If you think you found one and it passes the magnetic test, let me know!
— Paul Gross (@PGLocal4) January 17, 2018
For step three, Gross recommends rubbing the rock on a rough surface, like the underside of a toilet tank lid. “Scratch the rock on there and, if it leaves a dark streak, then it’s probably not a meteorite. However, if the streak is light or faint, then you might have one.”
The only way to know for sure if a rock comes from space is to get it checked by a scientist, Gross wrote.
Michael Narlock, head of astronomy at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, thinks meteorite-hunters have a tall task on their hands. “It’s just going to be a challenge,” he told The Detroit News. “The ground is covered in snow, and chances are, any chunks got covered by snow. But if you’re lucky, they hit in an area that’s easy to access in an open field.”