It is near the end of the year and that is a time of reflection. I cut a great many meteorites this year. I cut what I seriously thought would be the largest lunar I would ever handle or certainly cut. It was a 1.7 kg stone and I cut beautiful thin slices. Since then many much larger have been found and presented to the meteorite world for sale. Which just goes to show that things never stay static for long and records are always quick to be broken. But it was still a fabulous experience handling and cutting that lunar. It was not my meteorite and it was so valuable that the owner came with it and stayed for four days at our home. That was actually more fun and a greater experience than the cutting. I never get to spend enough time with this friend and having four days to talk and chat and go out to restaurants was like a once in a lifetime thrill for my wife and me.
I got one trip out to the desert hunting and that was one more then I had gotten in several years. I am hoping that will change in the years to come. I am still waiting for that blazing daylight bolide that explodes over the southwestern US.
In late June with the fireworks of the Independence Day holiday already making life a painful and sleep deprived existence and the racing cars blasting up our street creating an ever greater frustration, my wife one day just yelled across the house at me that “We are moving to Tehachapi” the city Paul Harris and family had moved to a couple years ago. I was not sure at first that she was serious but she assured me she was. I got up the next morning at 5 AM and began the four-month process of fixing the old house, selling it and buying a new one. We moved into our beautiful newly constructed home on November 3rd. As of the time of writing this I am still surrounded by boxes in my office. I have a workshop building with its own airconditioning that I have to set up with all the tools and equipment of my too many hobbies and interests. Currently, it is holding chairs most of which will be going out for reupholstery. There is no firework activity in the new city and we live in a culdesac so no fast driving by the house. We have no neighbors but several of the homes nearly completed are marked as Sale Pending” so we will have neighbors soon.
Up to about three weeks before we moved I was still cutting meteorites. One was a spectacular Martian stone filled with melt and vugs. It was the only stone of its kind thus far. But that could change tomorrow which often happens. It is always interesting to see a fantastic meteorite come to the attention of the world as unique and one of a kind only to see stones paired to it very quickly. There is no doubt that meteorite falls can consist of a single stone. But many more falls occur where multiple or hundreds of stones are created by explosions in the atmosphere. So once a fantastic stone is revealed and the location leaked. It is usually not long before more pieces are found and on the market.
Moving really did seem to occupy my year and also made 2018 seem to pass incredibly slowly and very fast depending on the aspect of my life that was involved. It is time as I write this to make arrangements for the next Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. It feels like it was just a short time ago that I was putting together the final touches on my book and getting it sent off to have copies printed to sell at Tucson. Now it is almost time for Tucson again. This year I have no schedule or appointments at the show. I can focus on looking at meteorites and chatting much more with friends. Which brings up another issue revealed by moving my life to a new home. I had to pack the meteorites to move them and it became very evident that I have enough meteorites. But can one ever actually have enough. Here is where I should insert a grinning emoji. They keep falling and I keep cutting them and I often keep a slice of the ones I cut if they are interesting. So without trying the collection continues to grow. One of those meteorites I cut a while back was a chondrule packed stone and it became official October 9, 2018. I sent a thin section that I made along with two slices totaling 48 grams to be classified and kept my fingers crossed that it was a type 3 as it appeared. After much work and several updated, it received an LL3 classification and I was thrilled. NWA 11991 is a very neat meteorite with clustered chondrules and a matrix rich in iron minerals and not much else.
Things have changed a great deal since 2000 when I cut into an extremely ugly stone on the outside that turned out to be beautiful inside (NWA774) and a meteorite which was funny purple color on the outside and half super fresh and half weathered quite badly (NWA775) inside in 2001. Paul Harris and I had only gotten Sahara 99676 classified before that. Those two were the first we sent off in the early days of the NWAs. Over 11,000 classified meteorites from North West Africa later I must not be alone as I consider how meteorite collecting was 30 or 40 years ago when there were much fewer meteorites to choose from. In those long past days Ureilites, Angrites, Howardites, Diogenite, Lodranites, Winonaites, and several other classifications were represented by just the type specimen which was not available to collectors or some of the classification had not yet been created by scientists. We enjoy today dozens of available Lunar meteorites and Martian meteorites. There were only the rocks brought back from the Moon by Apollo astronauts to represent that cosmic body. Three odd classifications of meteorites which might have been guessed by some scientists to maybe be from Mars. These are fantastic times to be a meteorite enthusiast. It is a shame that there is not the interest in space and the universe than there was in the 1960s – 1970s. It would be wonderful if more persons would become excited and join us in the study of these wanderer’s captured by the Earth.
2019 will be a year full of great things. It is the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. I plan on going to Florida and celebrating with my wife the day they walked on the nearest neighbor we have in space. It is somewhat bittersweet because most of us living back then and thrilled by the Apollo missions thought we would long ago have built permanent structures there and moved on to Mars with manned missions. But my wife and I plan on having the time of our lives in Florida at the Space Flight Center. After all, we met on the day Neil and Buzz walked on the Moon.
I hope that soon I can get out of this claustrophobic tiny area where my computer is set up in what will be my office and get back to work. But we have a good many more boxes to unpack still in all the rooms of the house so my office and workshop may be a few weeks away from being back in shape. I miss my ultra-closeup photography of thin sections but at least I know where the box holding the equipment is. Merry Christmas and I hope all of you have a prosperous, safe and healthy 2019.