How can I recognise a meteorite?

No meteorites
These stones are not meteorites. From top left to bottom right: Pyrite nodule, vesicular slag, limonite concretion, Marcasite nodule, glassy slag.

Dieter Heinlein

Finds like the one in the picture are often mistaken for meteorites. If you think you have found a "sky stone" yourself, you can use a few simple tests to narrow down whether it is possibly a genuine meteorite. The following checklist is very helpful:

  • Does the found piece have a particularly high density, i.e. is it particularly heavy for its size?
  • Is the piece attracted by a magnet?
  • Does the object have a matt surface?
  • Does the object show a metallic lustre or metallic inclusions on a polished corner?
  • Does the object have a black or brown crust?
  • Is the piece compact and solid?

If you can answer all questions with "yes", you may have found a meteorite! In some (rare) cases, one of the answers may be "No" and the find may still be an (unusual) meteorite. However, if you have ticked "No" to all the questions, it is highly unlikely that your find is a meteorite.

Earthly rocks or products that are often mistaken for meteorites:

  1. metalliferous slags (mostly porous)
  2. sulphidic sedimentary nodules (made of pyrite or marcasite)
  3. Concretions of haematite or magnetite
  4. Corroded remains of metallic tools

If after the above "check" you are of the opinion that you have found a genuine meteorite, you are welcome to send us a message to the contact address below. We can organise a scientific analysis.

But: Meteorites are really very rare! Please don't be too disappointed if your piece turns out to be non-meteoritic.


Reporting address for found objects