Mystery of New Jersey 'meteorite’ found in crater on beach solved by astronomer

A pair of New Jersey sisters were convinced they stumbled upon something "out of this world" during a stroll along the beach last week.

Nora and Jean Muchanic were at Silver Beach in Toms River when they spotted a giant, crater-like hole in the sand. Curious, the siblings walked over to investigate what they estimated to be a 5-foot-wide hole.

They found something peculiar sitting in the center: a single black rock.

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"We found this 5-foot crater and a rock embedded in the middle that smells like it's burned. Whaaat??!! Trying to figure out if it's the real deal," Nora wrote in a Facebook post, creating a buzz in the local community.

Dozens of people were quick to offer their predictions as to what it was — many agreeing it appeared to be a meteorite. If that was true, it would be the first rock from outer space found in The Garden State since 1829, NJ.com reports.

"There was a meteor shower last week," one Facebook user pointed out.

"Good luck! I hope it's found to be a meteorite. What a great story and a find of a lifetime," another commented.

"If a magnet sticks to it, it's most likely a meteorite," a woman suggested.

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Following the advice of their countless friends, the Muchanics decided to get an expert's opinion. So, they brought the large rock to the Franklin Institute, a museum in Philadelphia that dubs itself a "leader in science and technology."

"The verdict is in--it's not a meteorite, it's a METEORWRONG!" 

— Nora Muchanic

Unfortunately, the rock wasn't quite the treasure they were hoping for — rather, it was a piece of coal.

Derrick Pitts, the chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, broke the unfortunate news to the sisters.

"The verdict is in--it's not a meteorite, it's a METEORWRONG!" Nora revealed Thursday. "Derrick says it's not a meteorite, it's a piece of COAL. Waaaaaah.....So nothing from another galaxy, now just a big ugly paperweight!"

Though it wasn't exactly the outcome they were hoping for, the sisters admitted it gave them a good chuckle.

“It was a fun adventure and we got a kick out of it,” Jean told NJ.com, adding that Pitts gave them a look at a real space rock afterward. “Now we have the most famous piece of coal in New Jersey.”