PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Meteorite hunting is all the rage up in Prescott after the American Meteor Society says they got 31 reports of a fireball that was seen over Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah!
12 News viewers caught the light show from all vantage points, and hunters like Michael Pineda tell us there's money in the hunt.
It's not just their shiny surface that makes meteorites appealing, it's how valuable they can be – especially to those looking to add to their collection.
"Every time a meteorite hits, there's hunters from all over the world who spend lots of money and lots of time," Pineda said.
As an amateur cosmo chemist, Pineda was piquing our interest with a piece from his own collection.
"It got its shape as it flew through the atmosphere and those flow lines are things you'd seen on an oriented stony iron meteorite," he said.
He explained the different types of meteors that can be found once the meteor hits the ground.
"There's the stony iron meteorite, the rarest one, and then there's an iron meteorite like ones found at Campo del Cielo, or locally, the Canyon Diablo meteorite – that's just about solid iron – and then there's the stony made mostly of stone it has tiny inclusions of metal, and that's how we know it came from space," Pineda said.
For seven years, Pineda's been studying several hundred pieces and says determining their worth is almost as thrilling as spotting one!
"Robert Verish, he found the Mars meteorite and called it Los Angeles. He sold it for $3.2 million. It wasn't very big, it was $10,000 a gram. Compare that to gold at $45 a gram, maybe a little bit more," he told 12 News.
But before they hit the ground, they soar across the sky, catching all kinds of attention.
"It's a big deal. I was actually shining this in Las Vegas the day it happened, and the guys were leaving Las Vegas to come out here they were on their way," he said.
And even though Pineda is from California, he's got a favorite from this display at ASU's Center for Meteorite Studies.
"The one from Glendale, Arizona that fell in 2018, one of the reasons it's my favorite is because I'm here looking for the one that fell recently, and doing some comparison in what I need to see," he said.