Is owning a meteorite legal?
In general, when people first start seeing meteorites for sale online, there are one of two things that come to mind:
1: "There's no way this is legal. It must be a scam!"
2: "Can I really buy something like this? I thought meteorites are rare."
There are also two answers here, and we will explore the how's, why's, and legality of meteorite collecting.
The answer to the first question and assumption is that yes, collecting meteorites is completely legal. Is it a scam? Possibly, and there's no real way for you to tell as an absolute beginner. You can try to determine if something is a terrestrial (Earthbound) rock, but some minerals and rocks on Earth can look very similar to some meteorites to the untrained eye.
The answer to the second question is also yes. You can 100% without a doubt buy authentic meteorites online. Meteorites are indeed rare, but as of the writing of this article, there are over 70,000 classified meteorites. This means these rocks have been submitted to labs dedicated to studying meteoritics, who then verified that they came from space using special methods followed by peer review. This process doesn't equate a visit to the local universities geology department. They can give you an idea sometimes, but most of the time they are bombarded with these questions and don't have time to constantly answer these types of inquiries.
The first tip we will offer is to find a mentor. There are some excellent groups on Facebook you can join that have more than enough people to help you start your journey in collecting. The Meteorite Club Facebook page is very large, over 11,000 members. This is a good place to see some sales, and get to know some of the collectors or people who are in the same boat you are. Meteorites, Tektites, Impactites & Ephemera is another excellent source of information. This group is around 3,000 members and cuts through a bunch of random posts and helps get you some basic knowledge on meteorites.
Second, find a book about meteorites! Rocks from Space is an excellent publication that discusses the different types of meteorites and even gets into some advanced topics. The second book we would recommend is The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Meteorites. This book is out of print, but you can occasionally find it on Ebay or similar sites. Be aware, this book delves much more deeply than some collectors ever intend on going. It can also be pretty expensive at $150+.
Third, don't let high price tags scare you away! There is a meteorite for sale for everybody. Some can be small specks worth hundreds of dollars, and some may fit nicely in your palm and be less than one hundred dollars. A great way to begin on a tight budget is with what many people call micro specimens. Micro specimens generally weigh less than a gram. You can find a vast variety of micro specimens at one of our partners Galactic Stone and Ironworks. All of these are extremely reasonable and you can own your first meteorite specimen for as low as $5!
Fourth, When searching for meteorites for sale, make sure you are searching for "meteorites." When you see a listing that says "meteor for sale" or "meteor sale" chances are that they are trying to pull one over on you. There is a difference between the words meteorite and meteor... but that's for another time!
Fifth: Get used to the metric system. When you begin to collect meteorites, you will see everything measured in cm, grams, and kilograms. This is mostly because this is a scientific hobby, and also because this is an international community and hobby. The United States is the only country on the planet that uses the imperial measurement system. Learning the metric system will be your friend!
Sixth and final point we are going to make today:
YES. You can without a doubt own an authentic meteorite legally!
This is an incredible hobby that will take years to learn as much as you can, and once you think you know it all, you get humbled very quickly by people who have been collectors for decades upon decades.
For guaranteed authentic meteorites, check out our store and see if any of our Chondrite, Achondrite, or Iron meteorites strike your fancy! We have something for all budget ranges available! If you're looking for something specific that we don't have, we would be more than happy to help you find it!