Identify meteorites

Meteorite found?

Anyone who thinks they have found a meteorite can narrow down whether it is possibly a genuine meteorite by carrying out a few simple tests. Almost all meteorites, even so-called stony meteorites, contain a certain percentage of iron/nickel. This makes them relatively heavy. Also, the surface melts in the atmosphere and freshly fallen meteorites have a black, smooth and dull surface.

The following checklist is helpful:

  • Is the find particularly heavy for its size?
  • Does the find have a smooth and matt surface (not shiny)?
  • Does the object show metallic inclusions on a possibly broken or chipped corner?
  • Does the object have a black surface crust?
  • Is the piece compact and solid (not porous)?

Meteorit erkennen

If you can answer 'yes' to all questions, there is a good chance that you have found a real meteorite.

Since meteoids and asteroids are some of the only remains from the beginning of the universe, meteorites are studied to draw conclusions about their formation and evolution. Therefore, special care should be taken with fresh, recently fallen meteorites. These have a special scientific value. Their original nature should be preserved as much as possible. Special notes in this case:

  • No magnet should be used so as not to destroy information about a magnetic field in the object.
  • To pick up the object one should use disposable gloves, a piece of cloth or the inside of a bag turned inside out.
  • The piece should be placed in a sealable bag or pocket.

Meteorites that are probably not related to a recent observation and that have probably been on the ground for a long time may also have a brown surface (due to dirt and rust) and can be tested to see if they attract a magnet.

If after these 'checks' you think you have found a real meteorite, please take some photos of the object and send them together with information about the size, location and time of finding to the following e-mail address: Don't forget to include your contact information.

Here you can find some more helpful information on meteorite hunting LINK.

Regarding the collection of meteorites, meteorite expert Dieter Heinlein points out the legal restrictions: "For such rare cases of luck as the discovery of a freshly fallen meteorite, there is no separate law in Germany that would regulate the ownership. According to a judgement of the Augsburg Regional Court of 6 July 2007 (8 O 1758/06), there is "no earthly right to heavenly goods". Such a heavenly stone is rather to be regarded as an "ownerless object" and thus the property of the finder. Of course, this general rule also applies to Baden-Württemberg, provided the meteorite is found on public land, e.g. in the forest, along a road, in a harvested field. If a searcher wants to enter a planted field, a private or even fenced property, he should in any case ask the owner or tenant of the property for permission beforehand."

(Changed: 17 Apr 2023)  | 
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