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How Much Is A Meteorite Worth?

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How Much Is A Meteorite Worth?

The UK's most famous meteorite, which is the first of its kind to be recovered in the UK will go on display in London's Natural History Museum from Monday, when museums, cinemas and hotels can reopen.

The meteorite, which was the first to be recovered in the UK in 30 years, finished its journey in a garden in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire in February - after quite the spectacular descent to Earth.

Around 65,000 meteorites have been found world-wide, but only 40 have been photographed as they descended as fireballs, according to the UK Fireball Alliance (UKFALL). These are known as "witnessed falls" and are more valuable.

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The Winchcombe meteorite is one of the few meteorites to have been witnessed plummeting down to Earth and it's an incredibly rare find; believed to be 4.5 billion years old - as old as the solar system itself.

"The Winchcombe meteorite is a carbonaceous chondrite, an extremely rare type of meteorite that holds crucial information about the origins of our solar system," said Professor Caroline Smith from the Natural History Museum. "It was recovered just hours after it was seen to fall and has had minimal terrestrial contact. To be able to put it on public display is hugely exciting."

How much is a meteorite worth?

The monetary value of a meteorite firstly depends on whether it was a "witnessed fall" or whether it was found by chance later on, according to Geology.com. "Witnessed falls typically command higher prices than finds," it says.

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Winchcombe meteorite: How much is a meteorite worth in the UK? ' Credit: Natural History Museum
Winchcombe meteorite: How much is a meteorite worth in the UK? ' Credit: Natural History Museum

The weight of a meteorite, composition, origin, and how rare it is also determines its economic value.

The scientific value of some meteorites, such as the Winchcombe one, are priceless. In terms of economic value, meteorites can cost anywhere between £20 and thousands, perhaps even millions.

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There's a real appetite for collecting meteorites too. There are thousands of dealers and collectors out there. Collector and science writer Geoffrey Notkin recommends using the International Meteorite Collectors Association for advice and trustworthy dealers.

Who owns a meteorite?

In the US and the UK, the meteorite is owned by the landowner. The family who owned the property the Winchcombe meteorite landed on decided to donate it to the Natural History Museum. They told the BBC that they wanted it to go towards the good of science, not a dealer.

What to do if you find a meteorite

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If you find a meteorite in the UK, you can email a photo of it to a meteorite organisation which can help you identify it.

What to do if you find a meteorite? Try to preserve it ' Credit: Natural History Museum
What to do if you find a meteorite? Try to preserve it ' Credit: Natural History Museum

It's generally advised to try and preserve the space rock as much as possible, so try not to touch it with bare hands or move it, until you're advised otherwise. If you do decide to email an organisation about your discovery, try to provide as many details as possible, such as: colour, size, GPS co-ordinates, and whether it's magnetic.

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You can even join in and help spot meteor showers by getting hold of a special meteorite camera for your house, says the UKFALL.

Featured Image Credit: Natural History Museum

Topics: space

Laura Sanders
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