Campo del Cielo meteorite at the Natural History Museum

Posted by David Eicher
on Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Campo del Cielo meteorite // Credit: David J. Eicher
On Astronomy’s August tour of London, some 25 readers and I had the great pleasure of seeing many important astronomical sites in England.

At the Natural History Museum in London, the famous mineralogist Jolyon Ralph met me for a few video walk-throughs showing highlights of the collection. Now, if you’re wondering what minerals have to do with astronomy, the universe makes minerals as elements and compounds that are attracted by electrical charges and form what most folks call rocks, but are really pure, ordered minerals. The minerals make up much of a planet’s crust, so mineralogy is essential planetary science. As various processes tear apart the mineral’s ordered structures, the mess that results makes rocks and gravel and dirt and so on.

Jolyon is a mineralogical expert and the founder of Mindat.org, an essential reference website for geology enthusiasts. You should check it out — it’s a spectacular free online site with data and photos on thousands of mineral species.

This video shows Jolyon describing a huge Campo del Cielo meteorite in the collection that was found in Argentina and fell prehistorically. It is one of the most treasured and abundant iron meteorites on Earth, but few pieces are this large. Enjoy!

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