An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin

RTMC and More

After missing RTMC last year we were pretty excited about going this year. We had a good time. I guess I could stop there and throw in a few pictures. But, it would not make for much of an article.

It was a new moon weekend and we hoped the crowd would be large. But, upon reflection going home Paul and I decided that it was a smaller gathering then in years past. We wondered whether astronomy like meteorite collecting is a hobby struggling to increase numbers of enthusiasts.

Mike Martinez of Mare Meteoritics was the only other meteorite dealer there besides us. We were going to be selling only on Saturday at the Swap Meet. So Mike’s tent was usually very busy when we walked by. He had bought a good selection of material this year. Lots of micro mounts of both classic and recent meteorites. He brought a lot of NWA type material and a good amount of Sikhote Alin both individuals and shrapnel. He had a couple good sized Campos and some large NWAs. I looked through his books and was sure tempted to get a couple. Somehow I managed not to do it.

The telescopes just get more and more automated all the time and larger as well. All the manufacturers had the very best they have to offer on display. Only a few years ago the largest would have been maybe a 10 or 12 inch. This year we got to see the newest thing in 14, 16 and 20 inch fully computerized scopes. New (for consumer scopes) optical designs made for better sharper views when we looked through them at night. But both the nights we were there it was very windy. So we did not stay out very long. There was really no point in observing much. The scopes had very low power in use because of the wind. And to be honest we have seen the objects they point at many times in our own scopes under perfect conditions. What we were interested in was doing some comparing of the scopes with each other. And we did that. The new ones are definitely better with sharper images and pin point stars to the edge of the field.

But, I was impressed by the solar scopes. I could be enticed into daytime astronomy. Here is a snap shot I took of the sun just hand holding my Nikon Cool Pix 990 up to the eyepiece of a telescope equipped with a H-alpha filter. There were prominences each day which was a thrill since we are near solar minimum right now.

Saturday morning we rose early to set up for the swap meet. You have to or you will not find a good place to spend the day. It was cold but getting a place where we were under a tree out of the soon to be blazing sun was important. We sold from about 7 am to almost 3 pm and got to tell the story of tektites a few dozen more times. Always fun. Here you can see Paul contented and relaxed minding our tables.

We had a good variety of meteorites for sell. We recently got the classifications back on two so we had those to offer. Sikhote Alin always draws a lot of interest. They look in miniature the way the general public thinks iron meteorites should look. Tektites always do well and we get lots of jokes about all the things people think they resemble. No one sniffed one this year that was progress I think.

Paul had the brilliant idea to leave early Sunday morning and run down the back side of the mountain to hunt on Lucerne Dry Lake for the day. I thought that was fabulous. So rising early on Sunday we headed that way. It is in miles so close that we would get a good long day of hunting. We did not find any meteorites, but it is another day of hunting. And it is the hunt that we enjoy almost as much as the finding.

A great weekend and since we had not gone anywhere in a long time we were ready. We need to get back to regular trips out searching for the stuff of dreams.