Phosphate minerals at the Natural History Museum

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, November 07, 2013

Phosphate minerals // 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 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 site with data and photos on thousands of mineral species.

This short video shows Jolyon in the main mineral species room of the museum, discussing some large phosphate mineral specimens. More videos will follow soon and will showcase various specimens that you can see from localities on Earth — and that you can imagine may exist in similar forms on other planets throughout the cosmos. Enjoy!

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