Each year, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society presents to the world the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, an event going on for more than 50 years. The many shows that have sprung up at numerous hotels around the city are really “satellite shows,” sprouting in the wake of the original. The real thing began in earnest Thursday morning, and my father John and I were at the gate at 10 for the opening bell. The event brings together 250 mineral, meteorite, and jewelry dealers who set up shop in the Tucson Convention Center downtown. This year’s theme, a basis for many exhibits on view along with the sales booths, is “Gems and Gem Minerals.” So, as you can imagine, we saw numerous impressive emeralds, tanzanites, topazes, rubies, and scads more types of stones that are often used for ornament as well as purely mineral specimens.We walked the hall all day and ran into many Astronomy readers and old friends in the mineralogy world. Among those was Evan Jones, an astronomy enthusiast, preeminent mineral dealer, and son of legendary author Bob Jones. We also saw Marcus Origlieri, the young dealer who is a walking encyclopedia of mineralogy and who also is a budding amateur astronomer. We ran into a number of mineralogists from the University of Arizona who expressed their enthusiasm for Astronomy magazine. And we saw some of the old hands of the mineral world, well-known dealers and collectors such as Wayne Thompson, Rob Lavinsky, Dan Weinrich, Dave Bunk, and many others.Meteorites are well represented at the show, and there are finds for all levels of collectors. Inexpensive irons are scattered here and there in bins, priced for kids, as are larger and more elaborate specimens for serious collectors. An upcoming article in Astronomy will present some of the highlights of the show to you.On Friday, we’ll spend our last hours searching out meteorites in Tucson and then head south for Rancho Hidalgo, Gene Turner’s dark sky observing site in New Mexico. There we will make observations with the magazine’s observatory facility and with Gene’s 30-inch scope that will form the basis for more upcoming articles. Senior Editor Rich Talcott will meet us there Saturday evening.
Visit our gallery of images from the 2010 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, and be sure to follow Dave's updates from his trip on our Twitter (@AstronomyMag) and Facebook pages.