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A Dummy’s Guide to Meteors and Meteor Showers
Some meteorites are actually pretty small, but they all have a glossy surface. Photo Credit: Flickr

Identifying Meteorites

Meteorites happen to be the rarest pieces of rock found on planet Earth. Many pieces of stone are tested each year by people who believe that they have come across a meteorite. Among the thousands, one or maybe two might be an actual rock from space. Some essential characteristics can help you recognize a meteorite. You can try to determine whether or not a rock is from a meteorite through some home tests. Home testing can save you money on your quest to test found rocks. Using a home testing kit can be a life-changing opportunity for many people.

These home tests are pretty simple and tend to produce accurate results most of the time. The purpose of home testing kits is to help people understand and know if the rock they have found is genuinely from space or another example of terrestrial rock known scientifically as meteor wrongs. Some pictures available on the internet may be useful and can help differentiate meteors from other simple rocks as well.

A Dummy’s Guide to Meteors and Meteor Showers
The fusion crust is why meteors have a specific surface appearance from all the heat. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Fusion Crust and its Characteristics

All meteorites will fall across the atmosphere at a higher velocity, which will force the outer part of the material to burn off. This melting will end up with one smooth outer coat, commonly referred to as a fusion crust. This crust is mainly a darker gray or even charcoal black color. The black fusion crust seems to be of two different textures: one is a shiny texture and another one is a dull velvety texture. The fusion crust comprises straight and flowing lines while moving molten rocks across the Earth’s surface. This is pretty common for the meteorites to have fused their outer body with some chips. With time, weathering takes place, leaving very little of the fusion crust on top.

Be sure to become familiar with the shapes of meteorites as well to determine if you have one in your possession. Meteorites are not smooth, round-shaped balls and are mostly known for their irregular shapes. Primarily, these space rocks are angular with rounded-off corners. Some will even show marks or pits on the surface that are called thumbprints. Scientists call these marks regmaglypts and these are formed as blistering air starts to destroy the rock when it moves through the Earth’s atmosphere.

Most of the time, people might come across some rusty iron mass and get confused by thinking they have found meteorites. Some sources of such meteor wrongs are mill balls or cannonballs. These old, rusty objects are known to have an iron-like meteorite appearance. It is only through chemical tests that you can determine if those are human-made or not. Iron, as found in meteorites, can be termed as a perfect mix of a nickel alloy. So, if the chosen rock fails to show any sign of nickel, then it cannot be an iron meteorite.

A Dummy’s Guide to Meteors and Meteor Showers
Meteors that are a red color are filled with iron. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Stable Nature and its Colors

Slag from industries manufacturing steel and iron will have some metallic particles within. Slag is a material that often gets confused with meteorites. However, slag will come out to be porous in nature or bubbly sometimes, which proves that you cannot call it a meteorite. In some instances, meteorites might exhibit some cavities, but those can never be porous or even bubbly to look at. To say the least, meteorites are solid rocks and could have some pits on the surface region, but the inside will be completely dense. Basalts, volcanic stones, and lavas can always be porous and can get mistaken for these space rocks.

You can determine if you possess a meteorite or a simple earth rock through its colors, as well. Fresh meteors are mostly black and the fusion crusts will show some flowing marks and some details to help them be identified. After staying on the ground for too long, they will start changing color and the fusion crusts will wear off. Then the details on their bodies will disappear completely. However, iron, as presented in meteorites, will rust because of the weather. When the iron-based metal starts to rust, it will stain the inside of the rock-based body and even the exterior. Those spots which started as an orange or reddish hue on black infused crust will turn into a rusty brown color with passing time. You can see the crust sometimes, but it won’t be black.

A Dummy’s Guide to Meteors and Meteor Showers
Meteorites can range from pebbles the size of a pea to a golf ball to even bigger. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Keep Learning About Meteors and Meteorites

It is exciting to learn about meteors and meteor showers, but only from accurate sources. Keeping a close watch on scientific discoveries from reliable sources like NASA will help you get the right information. It is stunning to see a shooting star, but once you start to understand its significance, you will fall deeply in love with it. With help from this article, you can try to differentiate meteorites from the simple rock formations found on Earth.