Professional Meteorite Hunter Has Luck In Hamburg Township
January 19, 2018
The search for meteorites in Hamburg Township proved successful for a group of professional hunters.
Larry Atkins lives in Goodrich but is a snowbird in the winter and lives in Arizona. He says friends, family, and meteorite colleagues started calling and texting to tell him about Michigan’s major event on Tuesday night. Tremors and an earthquake were recorded, which he says is a good indication of a large event and that there could be rocks on the ground. He says that and Doppler radar information looked solid enough, so he booked a flight home.
Atkins says he got up bright and early around 6am Thursday and started searching with two fellow hunters, Robert Ward and Darryl Landry. Atkins says within 15 minutes of searching, they found their first meteorite. Within 30 minutes they had two and by the end of the day, had found a total of six. Atkins found two, Darryl Landry found one and Ward found three.
Atkins told WHMI the find occurred in Hamburg Township, but he declined to share the exact spot for obvious reasons. As for the hunt, Atkins says it’s pretty basic once you get some important factors down – Doppler radar reports and confidence in where the rocks should be. From there, he says it’s mostly just grunt work - get out, start walking and looking.
Tuesday night’s meteor had a trajectory northwest of Detroit from Brighton to Howell. Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office says it was "definitely a meteoroid" and a rare sight for Michigan. The meteor was reported at roughly 8:15pm and was an estimated 2 yards in diameter before breaking up about 20 miles over the Earth. Cooke earlier said meteorites, perhaps 1-2 ounces in size, are likely spread over a 2½-mile area of Hamburg Township.
This marks his very first Michigan find and Atkins says the recent event is Michigan’s 10th recognized meteorite, but only the 4th witnessed fallen meteorite in the state. He says if a farmer finds one in the field, it’s counted as a meteorite find but not considered a witnessed fall – which is when people see it coming out of the sky, on fire, and then it gets found. Atkins says it’s a rare event, which he did two years ago in Florida.
Atkins says he’s spent his life hunting and fishing but hunting for meteorites is different and they’re unbelievably exciting to find. He says nothing compares to finding a meteorite - calling it “the ultimate” and rarest thing on the planet. He says meteorites are the building blocks of the solar system and when you hold a meteorite in your hand, you’re holding a 4.56 billion year old sample that is unchanged from its formation. Atkins says every rock you touch on Earth has been through the geologic processes over and over, making meteorites very special because they’re the original ingredient that created all of the planets and asteroids.
As a kid, Atkins says he was always interested in discovery and the natural world – animals, rocks, fossils, and space – but it all came together in the 1990’s when he read an article about a man who looked for meteorites. Atkins says that was when he changed the direction of his life. He says it allows a regular person to be a citizen scientist and actually make a true contribution to science, saying that was around age 38 and he’s been doing it ever since. Anyone looking for confirmation or information can visit his website. The link is provided. (JM)