BETHEL — The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum is offering a $20,000 reward to the first person to recover a 2.2-pound meteorite from the fireball that shot across the Maine sky early Tuesday morning.

It’s the first time that the museum, which does not officially open its exhibits to the public until 2017, has offered a reward for a piece of meteorite.

“Only five meteorites have been recovered in the state of Maine,” museum Director Barbra Barrett said Wednesday. “Of course, others have likely fallen, but finding a meteorite in Maine is a tough thing. We’re a densely forested state, and we also have a lot of water. Even if some haven’t been recorded, it doesn’t mean they’re not there. It just means we haven’t found them yet.”

The American Meteor Society said it received hundreds of reports of the event from Maine and other states in the Northeast.

Barrett said that based on eyewitness accounts gathered by the American Meteor Society, the meteoroid “entered Earth’s atmosphere over Maine, and its terminal explosion occurred about 30 (kilometers) west of Rangeley in Franklin County.”

She said the meteorite piece, if found, would receive a “place of honor in the museum’s Meteorite Hall.”


“To be able to have meteorite pieces that were witnessed in our home state by so many people is rare and exciting,” Barrett said. “It could be a historic thing, because so many people actually saw it. It creates a little more magic around meteorites.”

Within hours of issuing a news release announcing the $20,000 reward, Barrett said the museum began “fielding calls from people claiming they either found pieces from this event, or found pieces of meteorite kicking around their neighborhood.”

She added, “If somebody thinks they’ve found a piece of the meteorite, they can give us a call, and we can set up a time where we can check it out.  We’d love to see anything that is found or a potential meteorite. We have the ability to analyze the meteorite and figure out where it came from.”

The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum plans to open its exhibits to the public in the spring of 2017.

According to its website, the museum “will house some of the finest mineral collections from Maine and throughout the globe,” including “an impressive collection from our Solar System featuring meteorites from Mars, the moon and the Asteroid Belt.”

Barrett said that “coincidentally, last week, we held meetings with consultants about forming a ‘Maine Fireball Network.'”


She said the network would help “set up special cameras around the state of Maine that would help calculate the height, speed and orbit of fireballs.”

“There are cameras just like that around the country,” Barrett said. “It actually allows you to be able to triangulate the location of meteorites and figure out where they landed.”

Barrett laughed and added, “We were kind of scratching our heads at how we held the meetings on the cameras, and a week later, we have a fireball shoot across our sky. It had us wishing we made the plans earlier.”

Although the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum does not have an exact date for when the special cameras would be installed, Barrett said there are hopes to have them ready to go in conjunction with the museum’s grand opening in 2017.

“I think the cameras will really engage local high school students and communities, and get them really enthusiastic about meteorites,” she said.

If anyone believes they found a piece of the fireball , email Barrett at, or call her at 207-824-3036.

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