© 2008

Field Guide to Meteors and Meteorites

  • Authors

Part of the Patrick Moore's Practical Astronomy Series book series (PATRICKMOORE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Ancient Fragments of the Solar System

  3. The Family of Meteorites

  4. Collecting and Analyzing Meteorites

    1. Pages 183-199
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 239-287

About this book


Imagine the unique experience of being the very first person to hold a newly-found meteorite in your hand – a rock from space, older than Earth!

"Weekend meteorite hunting" with magnets and metal detectors is becoming ever more popular as a pastime, but of course you can’t just walk around and pick up meteorites in the same way that you can pick up seashells on the beach. Those fragments that survived the intense heat of re-entry tend to disguise themselves as natural rocks over time, and it takes a trained eye – along with the information in this book – to recognize them.

Just as amateur astronomers are familiar with the telescopes and accessories needed to study a celestial object, amateur meteoriticists have to use equipment ranging from simple hand lenses to microscopes to study a specimen, to identify its type and origins.

Equipment and techniques are covered in detail here of course, along with a complete and fully illustrated guide to what you might find and where you might find it. In fact, the Field Guide to Meteors and Meteorites contains pretty much everything an amateur astronomer – or geologist – needs to know about meteors and meteorites.


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From the reviews:

"The average age of most meteorites is 4.6 billion years. … This groundbreaking book … is the most concise guide to date on every aspect of this fascinating field. The authors combine the collecting, study and hunting of meteorites with good advice on equipment and identification techniques. … it is equally suited to beginner and expert with well-illustrated page-by-page descriptions of each meteorite sub-type. … This is an impressive book containing everything you need to know about these remarkable cosmic treasures." (Mark Ford, BBC Sky at Night, September, 2008)

"This practical reference source … goes beyond the well-illustrated guide to help meteorite hunters identify their prize (with detailed color photos), and includes the astronomical context needed to understand meteorites and their Earth-bound predecessors, meteoroids. … A mineral glossary and references (print and online) supplement the text. … Summing Up: Recommended. General audiences and all undergraduate students." (L.R. Johnston, Choice, Vol. 46 (5), January, 2009)

"This is a magnificent book and a must for anyone who is interested in our solar system and its formation. … A wonderful segment is included on what meteorites look like in thin section and it is a glorious world indeed. … If you do, or if you wish to find you own, or if you just wish to learn more about the environment our Earth inhabits, you will want a copy of this outstanding book." (Amazon, November, 2008)

2009 Best Reference Work-

"Field Guide to Meteors and Meteorites" by O. Richard Norton and Lawrence A. Chitwood received the Mary B. Ansari Best Reference Work Award.  The book is both a guide to observing meteors and a practical handbook for meteorite hunters.  Abundant information on locating, preparing, and analyzing meteorites is presented.  The work’s comprehensive treatment, fine color illustrations, and accessibility to a wide audience were winning points in the selection committee’s decision.  "Meteorite information has been scattered, hard to find and difficult to interpret – sort of like meteorites themselves," commented committee member Dennis Trombatore.  "The Field Guide is a powerful reference tool. It will inspire, enlighten and inform everyone who uses it.""