Meteorite ownership: are space rocks in your yard really yours?

Meteorites range in value from $0.50 a gram up to $1,000 a gram for extremely rare specimens. In 2008, a man who had unwittingly been using a 22-pound meteorite as a doorstop for decades learned it was worth $100,000.

If you find a meteorite, does it belong to you? The answer depends on where you find it and where you live.

As reported in BBC Sky at Night Magazine, if you find a meteorite in the United Kingdom, it's finders keepers. "You can keep these fossils of the early Solar System in the same way that you can keep fossils that formed on Earth, if you find any."

If you live in the United States, it's a bit more complicated. If you find the meteorite on your own property, it's yours. You can also legally buy a meteorite that someone else found on their property. "But the US government has stated that no matter who finds a meteorite on public lands, it belongs to the Smithsonian Institution."

I wonder how many people find meteorites on public lands and then claim that they found it while tilling their backyard garden?