Maine museum offers $20,000 reward for piece of meteor seen over Northeast

Fireball over Portland (CTSY: Portland Police)

BETHEL (WGME) -- The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum in Bethel is offering a $20,000 reward for meteorites from the fireball that was seen streaking through the Maine sky Tuesday.

The fireball was seen across the Northeast and Canada.

The museum suspects the meteor entered Earth's atmosphere over Maine and its terminal explosion occurred about 30 km west of Rangeley in Franklin County.

It's offering a $20,000 reward for the first one-kilogram meteorite recovered which will receive a place of honor in the museum's Meteorite Hall.

"This is an exciting opportunity, and we need the public's help," Barbra Barrett, museum director, said.

The museum says it plans to set up special cameras across the state to track future fireballs. The network of cameras is expected to be operational in 2017.

[Related: VIDEO: Meteor lights up sky in Maine]

According to the American Meteor Society, such events are extremely common, but extremely rare to behold.

The society's operations manager, Mike Hankey, says fireballs happen pretty regularly when debris hits the Earth's atmosphere and creates friction and heat.

"Debris from space hits Earth all the time," Hankey told CNN. "The bigger the debris, the bigger the flash of light."

He says based on the video posted by Portland Police, the debris -- most likely a piece of an asteroid -- was about the size of a car.

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