Friends and neighbors Luke Janes and David Egan hold the meteorite they found together Jan. 19 after it crashed to Earth earlier that week.

Friends and neighbors Luke Janes and David Egan hold the meteorite they found together Jan. 19 after it crashed to Earth earlier that week.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Huntington Woods men find meteorite

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published January 31, 2018

 The meteorite that Egan and Janes found is 20.6 grams in weight. The two will have it cut in half so that they both can own a piece.

The meteorite that Egan and Janes found is 20.6 grams in weight. The two will have it cut in half so that they both can own a piece.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

HUNTINGTON WOODS — The meteor Jan. 16 was seen and heard by residents all throughout the state.

One of those observers was Huntington Woods resident David Egan, who with his friend, Luke Janes, decided to hunt for fragments from the meteor in areas where the fragments might have landed.

Egan, a science teacher at Larson Middle School in Troy, said that both he and Janes felt and heard the meteor, but he wasn’t quite sure if that’s what had caused the commotion.

“I didn’t see the flash, but I felt it, like, shake my home,” he said. “It made an incredibly loud noise that kind of, like, rattled my chest a little bit.”

After confirmation that it was a meteorite, Egan and Janes traveled to areas based on doppler radar images from NASA.

At the third location they went to, they ended up at Bass Lake in Hamburg Township. The two weren’t the only ones searching for fragments, as they saw many other people looking, including people from Michigan State University and Cranbrook Institute of Science.

It was at the Bass Lake location that Janes spotted a small fragment on the ground.

“Luke spotted a fragment that had broken up when it was entering,” Egan said. “Part of it was charred from burning in the atmosphere, but part of it was light, and the light part was facing up in the snow. So I think that’s how a lot of people missed it.”

Egan said the finding was an exciting moment. It also excited the others who were searching, with some offering to buy it and others wanting to cut a piece off to put in a museum.

They ended up taking the fragment, about 20.6 grams in size, to Cranbrook the next day to confirm that it was a meteorite. Egan said they have stayed in touch with Cranbrook, as the institution wants to gather data on the piece.

He’s also working with Samer Hiriri, who teaches geology at Oakland Community College and Schoolcraft College, to find what classification the meteorite is and figure out how old it is.

“It’s the ancient kind, and it’s more than 4 billion years old,” Egan said. “I’m a science teacher, and that’s, like, my early classification of it. I need somebody who’s a little more of an expert to look at it, but we’re pretty sure it fits into that category.”

Hiriri confirmed that the fragment is from the meteor. Besides using the doppler radar images to track the meteor’s path, there were other clues.

“They have a fusion crust,” he said. “A very thin fusion crust that was burning up in the atmosphere before the rock hit the earth, or before the rock hit the surface, I should say. So we look for that fusion crust, and if it’s there, then that’s another indication that it’s a meteorite.”

Hiriri also said the meteorite matches what he’s seen from other pieces found by others from the same rock, and that the specimen is magnetic.

“This was phenomenal,” he said of the whole meteor experience. “To have it happen in our own backyard, so to speak, is pretty fascinating. To see the excitement that people have and the buzz this has created, there’s a lot of scientific value to it, but there’s also a lot of, I guess, social value to it, because it brought people together and people were just talking about meteorites, and they’re still talking about meteorites today.”

“We not only got to see it and hear it, but we actually got to touch samples of it. I think that’s pretty remarkable,” Hiriri said.

Both Egan and Janes agreed beforehand that they would split whatever they found while hunting, and they plan to take the fragment to Miner’s Den in Royal Oak to get it cut.

“It would be incredible to own something that came from space anyways, but it’s even more incredible the fact that we felt it and we experienced it, and then we went out and found a piece of it,” Egan said. “That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”