Collecting Meteorites

When I was a Boy Scout, I subscribed to Boy’s Life magazine. I read it cover to cover.  Sometimes twice.   Great tips on everything.  If a dog attacks someone, pick up the dog’s hind legs (they stop) or wrap your belt around him.  Drowning people rarely splash – watch their head.  Polaris – the North star – never moves in the sky.  It is true North and determines your precise North latitude.    Great articles.   Good stuff.   Even a page of humor. 

One article that I remember to this day is how to collect meteorites.  Yes, meteorites.  Every day, the earth is bombarded with cosmic debris — including an avalanche of tiny meteorites.  Not the big splashy ones that whoooosh through the air leaving trails of brilliant light and make the news when they smack into a house.  I’m talking about dust.  Meteorite dust — and particles.  So how do you collect this cosmic detritus?  Boy’s Life spoke of getting a large tin pan, a piece of cloth in the bottom and setting it outside – perhaps in the garden.  And leave it there for a week.  Then go out with a magnet and run it through the particles that have collected.  Those that stick — especially the pencil-dot sized nuggets — are likely small meteorites.  There may also be remnants of “fly ash” (from coal-burning stoves or fireplaces). 

Good articles and videos about this subject are available today on line.  The best (probably quicker) way suggested to collect meteorites is to put a bucket under a gutter downspout — and then hose down the roof.  The roof is a good collector of such material.  The water from the downspout pours into the bucket.  The heavy stuff (like when you pan for gold) settles to the bottom.  Pour out the water and (unless your roof is metallic) use your magnet to pick up these visitors from outer space.