Collecting meteorites from rainwater

Allegedly it is possible to collect tiny fragments of meteorites from rainwater.  The story goes that they can drift in the atmosphere until they get caught in the rain and end up falling to the ground.  By trapping the flow of water from a gutter it’s believed that one can find some of these tiny bits of solar system debris.

I’m not personally sure if it’s 100% true and plenty of people will tell you that you’re more likely to end up with dust from industrial chimneys and suchlike, but my son and I thought it would be fun to have a go, so between us we built a little trap into which we could divert the downpipe from one of our gutters to see what happens.  We do at least have the advantage of living in the middle of the countryside with no heavy industry for miles around, so if we can’t do it, not many people can.

We took a 25 litre hypochlorite container and cut a hole in top to feed water in, and one in the side for the water to flow out:

IMG_0038 IMG_0039 IMG_0040A few bits of scrap pipe and fittings that I had lying about allowed us to insert it into the downpipe:

IMG_0041 IMG_0042 IMG_0043We’re only interested in iron-based meteorites as they’re easiest (so the theory goes) to trap, and to do that I bought a decent-size neodymium magnet about 40mm x 20mm x 5mm, sealed it inside a plastic bag and dropped it inside the container.

The water from the downpipe should come into the container through the top, but the pipe continues to the bottom where it is cut off at an angle, meaning it should slosh around near the magnet.  Water leaves the top and disappears down the drain.  If the meteorites are heavy enough hopefully they should stay somewhere near the bottom and the movement of water should eventually bring them near enough to the magnet to trap them.

Soon I think it will be time to take the magnet out and see what we have…



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