The best place to look for any meteorite fragments is near Waite in Washington County.
The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum in Bethel is offering a $25,000 reward for anyone who can recover a fragment of a meteorite that came down over Washington County on Saturday. Credit: Lori Valigra / BDN

It’s not every day an opportunity like this falls out of the sky, but some ambitious Mainer could earn an easy $25,000 if they’re able to find a meteorite that fell over Washington County.  

The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel, which has the single largest specimens of both the moon and Mars on Earth, is offering the reward for the first meteorite it receives weighing one kilogram or more.

A bright fireball was seen in the sky over eastern Maine and New Brunswick around noon Saturday. Shortly after, multiple sonic booms were heard in nearby Calais. 

Shawn Laatsch, the director of the Versant Power Astronomy Center at the University of Maine in Orono, speculated the fireball was possibly a larger kind of meteor called a bolide.

“Sometimes you can have meteorites that are visible during the daytime. A bolide is very bright and leaves a trail,” Laatsch told the Machias Valley News Observer. “If it’s visible in the daytime, it’s usually a large meteor that hits that atmosphere and lights up. The different colors you see depend on what it was made up of.”

Some described the meteorite’s fall as a “red flare” or like a “firework,” according to the Machias paper.

It was the first time radar ever caught a meteorite falling in Maine, according to NASA. So far, no one has claimed to have found any fragments of the meteorite. 

But Darryl Pitt, the chair of the museum’s meteorite division, is optimistic that fragments will be recovered.

“When a fireball is sufficiently bright to be seen in broad daylight, it would have been extraordinarily bright had this been at night,” Pitt said. “The existence of positive Doppler radar returns — meteorites detected descending through the atmosphere just several miles above ground — assures us there are meteorites waiting to be found.”  

The most likely area for recovering any meteorites is a mile-wide field extending from just north of Waite, Maine, to the border town of Canoose in New Brunswick.

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Braeden Waddell

Braeden Waddell is a reporter covering Belfast and Waldo County. He grew up in Waldoboro and joined the Bangor Daily News in 2023 after working as an associate producer for National Public Radio. He graduated...