Day 1 of meteorites at the Tucson Gem Show

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The original main mass of an extraordinary oriented meteorite, the Stromboli Stone, NWA unclassified, stone, chondrite, Northern Mauritania, found 2012, 1482g, Anne Black/Impactika Meteorites specimen. // All photos by David J. Eicher
I spent Monday, February 10, in the great city of Tucson, first appearing on The Morning Blend TV show on KGUN, ABC, the local Journal Broadcasting station. This was a return appearance; I enjoyed being on the show in November, talking about the Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo. This time the hosts, Amanda Guralski and Sally Shamrell, welcomed me, and Sally and I discussed the Astronomy magazine star party event held on Saturday night, meteorites and gems at the Tucson Gem Show, and the climate of astronomy in Tucson — what makes it the center of astronomy in the United States.

In the afternoon, I set off to explore meteorites at the Tucson Gem Show, first heading to the Hotel Tucson City Center/InnSuites. I spent lots of time photographing meteorites at the galleries of two old friends, Anne Black of Impactika Meteorites, and “Meteorite Man” Geoff Notkin’s shop, Aerolite Meteorites.

There were many spectacular specimens here, and I’ll share a number now and lots more over the coming days. The most amazing rock in Anne’s room was an unclassified stone found in Northern Mauritania in 2012, called for its shape the “Stromboli Stone.” It is highly ablated and is one of the most incedibly oriented meteorites in the world.

A terrific meteorite rarity: a 3.48g slice of the L’Aigle stone, which fell in a shower on April 26, 1803, over Normandy, France. This first major witnessed fall gave birth to the science of meteoritics. Stone, chondrite, L6, Anne Black/Impactika Meteorites specimen.
Anne also had many historical rarities — a specialty she is known for. There were pieces of the L’Aigle meteorite, which fell over Normandy in the early 19th century and was a turning point for scientists taking the idea of “stones from the sky” seriously. She also had pieces of the Ensisheim fall, another French meteorite, this one raining down in 1492. There were also small pieces of the famous Egyptian fall of 1911, Nakhla, that in mythology killed a dog, but in reality it turned out to be one of the rarest and most important stones from Mars.

Anne’s inventory also included amazing slices of pallasites, those intermediate meteorites composed of a matrix of iron-nickel and peppered with yellow-green transparent crystals of forsterite — an olivine group mineral, called peridot by jewelers. These amazing meteorites are incredibly beautiful when lit from behind.

Much, much more to come from the Tucson shows over the coming days.

But tomorrow, early in the morning, I will head off for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory and the other instruments of the Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, south of the city. Full reports are coming.

And to see more images from my Tucson trip, visit the Reader Photo Gallery.

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