An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin

New Falls and Collecting

The Earthís atmosphere is struck constantly by particles from outer space. We call them meteoroids and they can range in size from the microscopic to the size of a bus. The large one being exceedingly rare events. But several times a year there is a flurry of excitement in the meteorite community as reports of a fall of stones is received. Right now the focus of attention is Norway where several stones from a fall there have been recovered. Will there be very much of this extraterrestrial visitor found? Will there be enough for specimens to make their way into collections like mine? We donít know yet but we are all hopeful that a lot will be found. As it look right now however the region is one of the hardest to hunt in. It is covered with crops and forest. But, farmers know their fields they have seen ever square inch often for their whole lives. A strange looking rock will make it presence known if it remains on the surface.

I would like a piece of this one. My wife is of Norwegian decent. And she is as time goes by getting more interested in meteorites. She decided this month to get herself a nice Sikhote Alin. I was to say the least shocked. But, also proud of her, she chose a really nice one. I would enjoy getting her a piece of this fall in Norway.

And wouldn't you know it there has been a new fall in India also it seems. Early pictures of one specimen made me scream eucrite. It has the almost characteristic shiny fusion crust. Time will show I suppose if my guess is correct. And it was a house hitter too. 

Iím a little envious of the individuals that are able to drop what they are doing and take off for each new strewnfield to hunt. I donít really think that I am adventurous enough to go half way across the planet, but I would love to be able to go to the next fall anywhere in the Americas. It will probably not happen though since time off for meteorite hunting is not something my employer is likely to recognize as a proper excuse for missing work.

The Perseid meteor shower is coming in just days and it has been a few years since I watched them. As a young person I was a meteor counter for Sky and Telescope. It was always a thrill to see myself listed as J. Tobin, San Pedro California in the magazine, one of the many who officially reported their observations of the shower. I have seen hundreds of fireballs in my life, and in recent Leonid showers photographed dozens of them. At star parties by the ocean we have seen several bolides fragment and head out to sea to drop their pieces in the water. What a heart break those were. I am still waiting for the day or night when the really fabulously bright, smoke tail forming meteoroid will pass while I am watching. That one I hunt. That one I miss work for.

Till I get the chance to hunt the next fall in my part of the world, I will have to be happy with getting out to the desert to hunt the reserves of space rocks that have accumulated there.

On a different topic, I have finish painting catalog numbers on all my NWA type stones. I put a lot of thought into what kind of cataloguing system to use. I had to determine what information was important to me. What did I want to be reflected in their identification number. I knew I wanted to record the year I acquired the specimen. I wanted to record its weight and I wanted to know where or from whom it was obtained. You might, ask why the weight? I could easily weigh it any time. Yes, but since they are unclassified for the most part and are going in my database. The weight was the only thing to differentiate them from others gotten at the same show or from the same dealer during the same year. I felt weight would likely be different for each specimen making it unique in the database.

I have gotten pretty good with a fine brush by the end of this project. I have to say they look somehow more impressive with a catalog number on them. They can now be displayed in my cases without worrying about losing their identity and provenance, as my memory of their purchase fades.

I have also found a great way to store many of them. These hot desert finds never rust or suffer from the environment so I donít have to dry box them. I have them stored in plastic fishing tackle boxes. They have moveable dividers so various size areas can be created and a tight click locking lid that keeps them from falling out. It is a great solution to the problem of having meteorites just sitting around everywhere in my office.

So as I wait for the great Southern California Meteorite Fall to arrive, I have my collection now in pretty good order, recorded and protected for the future.