Rock is out of this world

JENNA HOUGHTON
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013
corrie linnell tdn
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Spotswood resident Corrie Linnell thinks he may have found a meteorite in his backyard.

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A New Plymouth man is confident he has uncovered a visitor from outer space in his backyard.

Corrie Linnell found the odd looking rock in his Spotswood yard on Saturday, and believes it is a meteorite.

"I've weeded a hell of a lot of gardens in my life, and come across a lot of rocks and gems, but I've never come across anything like this," he said.

The rock fits in his cupped hands and weighs roughly 1.5kg, which the part-time scuba diver said is quite unusual.

"I've dealt with rocks. This is heavier than a salt water rock," he said.

Unsure of what to do with it, Linnell made a Facebook post and on the advice of a friend, listed it on Trade Me. "UFO poo or iron rock?" comes with a hefty $1 million starting bid.

But Linnell said he listed it predominantly to find out more about it.

"I reached out to see if anyone knows anything and could shed some light."

The Kipling Drive resident has also contacted the New Plymouth Observatory and a geologist.

Joel Schiff from the University of Auckland, said the chances it's a meteorite is "reasonably promising" based on two photographs he had seen.

"It has a somewhat burnt appearance which is what occurs when a meteorite comes through the atmosphere at high speed. It also looks a bit weathered," he said.

Schiff, who is the founding editor of the International Quarterly Meteorite magazine, said he would need to see the rock up close and carry out tests with equipment such as magnets and and a magnifying glass to determine its origin.

However, Linnell's son Oliver, 8, is confident he knows where the rock is from.

"I didn't see it fall but it's from the planet with the ring around it," he said, adding that it isn't the first he's seen.

"I had an asteroid come to my house one day. I found it under the deck steps.

"It's worth 4 million bucks, I'll be rich and then I can buy myself a new Transformer."

Linnell said he would decide what to do with his find once he knew what it was.

According to Puke Ariki records, there was one sighting of a falling meteorite in Taranaki in 1908.

Fragments were found in Mokoia and are now housed in a Whanganui museum.

Schiff said there was also a large fireball sighting in Taranaki on July 7, 1999.

Around 1 in 1000 rocks sent to scientists turn out to be extraterrestrial, but Schiff is hopeful.

"It could be someone's lucky day," he said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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