Bird? Plane? Nope, Meteorite Hunter Mike Hankey soars into NH SAMANTHA STELTZER

SAMANTHA STELTZER, Video Manager

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A few weeks ago, Mr. Doug Heeter’s Astronomy class was treated to a special guest speaker, Mike Hankey, a meteorite hunter. Hankey is a software developer and entrepreneur, it was only after he decided to move out “into the country and started to appreciate the stars and [I] got a crazy idea that I should get a telescope and try and learn more.”

Now he does “a lot of work for the American Meteor Society. I’m there operations manager and operate that website.”

One July night in 2009, while looking through his telescope, Hankey managed to take “a picture of a fireball [a large bright meteor]. This was a really lucky shot and [it] triggered a meteorite hunt.” The event was so important and rare that his story “appeared on the front page of the Baltimore Sun a few days after.”

“I would say after that Fireball photo event, I knew that this is what I wanted to do,” he says. From there Hankey started to take part in meteorite hunting. Meteorite hunting is “is the act of looking for meteorites.”

He states that, “It is fun because meteorites are the rarest material on Earth and tracking them down and looking for them is a great adventure. It’s very challenging but also rewarding, especially when you find something.”

Hankey’s most memorable experience when hunting was finding meteorite near Lake City, Florida last February. “I was with a team of 5 people. I found 2 personally and we found 6 as a group [which weighed] about 960 grams total,” he says, “All meteorite finds from witnessed falls are significant because there have only been about 1350 in the history of mankind. This type of thing happens less than 5 times a year.”

While Hankey believes he’s done “a lot of exciting things. I’ve presented at a lot of conferences in front of many people but nothing tops meteorite hunting.”

Heeter, brought Hankey into his classroom as “a part of the Project Astro program that I’m involved with where they have resources available to us to help us teach astronomy content and I made the connection through that program with him.”

“He’s a real energetic speaker, real knowledge about the topic, and has nice display samples to share with everyone to be able to see,” Heeter says about Hankey, who he had around last year for a day and gave three different presentations to students.

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Bird? Plane? Nope, Meteorite Hunter Mike Hankey soars into NH SAMANTHA STELTZER