Finding meteorites topic of library program

Scientists believe there is, on average, at least one meteorite on every square half-mile in Oregon.

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MILTON-FREEWATER - A free program about meteorites and what to look for when trying to find them will be presented 7 p.m. Thursday at the Milton-Freewater Public Library, 8 S.W. Eighth Ave.

Dick Pugh, a Portland-based scientist who researches meteorites worldwide and delivers programs internationally for the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory at Portland State University, will present the program followed by a question-and-answer period. The event is free and all ages are welcome.

Pugh will bring meteorites for those attending to pick up and handle, including the oldest known meteorite in the world. He will explain what to look for in searching for meteorites and will present photos of the only two meteorites ever found in Eastern Oregon. Both were identified last year; one was found near Heppner and one near Lakeview.

To date only six meteorites have been found in Oregon, yet scientists believe there is, on average, at least one meteorite lying on the ground on every square half-mile of the state.

Unusual rocks are sometimes brought home and tossed in a flower garden or put in an outbuilding.

"If someone comes across a rock that looks different than any others in that locale and has at least some of the characteristics of a meteorite, it very well could be one." Pugh said in a release.

Meteorites can be valuable and belong to the owner of the property where they are found. Meteorites are heavy, magnetic and most often are pitted or bear a burnt surface from being hurled through the atmosphere.

Anyone who has a rock they would like identified, or believes it may be a meteorite, can bring it to the program.

The program is brought to the library through Portland State University's Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory in partnership with Libraries of Eastern Oregon and is made possible with funding from NASA.

For more information, call Bob Jones at 541-938-8246.

To learn more about the PSU laboratory and Pugh, who recently won an international award for his efforts for meteorite identification and education, visit meteorites.pdx.edu.

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