An "incredibly rare" fireball flew over Maine – and now a museum is offering $25,000 for a piece

Did you see the fireball that flew across Maine's skies over the weekend? If you did, it could be beneficial to try to remember its path, as a local museum is offering thousands of dollars for a piece of it. 

On Monday, the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum announced that it's offering a $25,000 reward for a kilogram of the meteorite, which was seen cutting across the sky in New Brunswick, Canada, on Saturday just before noon "in broad daylight." According to the museum, "multiple sonic booms" from the fireball could be heard in Maine. NASA Doppler radar detected multiple meteorites from that time, the museum said. 

"There was an extraordinary event that happened in Washington County," the museum posted on Facebook on Wednesday. "A fireball was spotted streaking through the sky — during the day!"

The museum explained that most fireballs are seen during the night when their light is easily contrasted against the dark behind it. This occasion, the museum said, "is incredibly rare."

"When a fireball is sufficiently bright to be seen in broad daylight, it would have been extraordinarily bright had this been at night," Darryl Pitt, chair of the museum's meteorite division, said in a press release. "The existence of positive Doppler radar returns – meteorites detected descending through the atmosphere just several miles above ground – assures us there are meteorites waiting to be found." 

The $25,000 reward is only for the first kilogram, but Pitt said that the museum will also buy other fireball pieces that are found. 

"Depending upon the type of meteorite this is, specimens could easily be worth their weight in gold," he said. 

This image shows the field estimate of where meteorites likely fell over Maine on Saturday.  Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science - NASA

The American Meteor Society received six witness reports of Saturday's fireball, half of which were in northeast Maine. One of the witnesses described the meteorite as having a "long glowing tail (but no smoke)." Another said that it was "bright red" while the tail was "very white."

"It was so bright – especially against the clear blue sky," that witness said.

NASA said that the meteorite event is the "first radar-observed meteorite fall seen in Maine." It was observed for just 4 minutes and 40 seconds, considered a "relatively short" period of time, although that could be because there was only one radar within its range. The meteorites could be anywhere between 1.59 grams to about 322 grams, but "larger masses may have fallen."

The museum said that anyone who finds a piece must have it identified with the museum. Appointments to do so can be made with their research lab technologist, Al Falster, and results will take five to ten business days.

"Specimens exhibiting advanced botanical matter are not from this fireball event!" the museum said. "And please remember: you must obtain land owner permission BEFORE meteorite hunting."


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