An Article In Meteorite Times Magazine
by Jim Tobin

Tucson 2008

Every year I do a little article on the Tucson Gem and Mineral show and what we saw or bought. And of course I am going to do that again, but this was a really different show in many respects. All the venues seemed to be different. Many of the dealers Paul and I visit were in new locations also. For me it made for a fresh new feel about the show.

I decided this year to take off the day before leaving from work as well. Get some rest and relax a little. I never get any good rest when I am in Tucson. Guess I am too excited about being there “hunting” meteorites. Paul was able to attend this year and we had discussed what we wanted to find and decided that we would try shipping stuff back rather than try carrying it all back in luggage. So we were as a company a little more planned for the trip as well this time.

Thursday morning we arrived at LAX and with plenty of time to spare sat in the airport and began catching up some. We really don’t get together that often with our schedules being pretty full all the time.

Tucson was warm and bright, as I pulled the rental car out on to the street. We had a nice Mustang this year through it must have had a little slush box 6 in it for it was no muscle car. But, I think we both enjoyed the extra leg room and we had gotten a great deal on it. After some difficulty because of old information still remaining on the web we found the dealers of one of the items we wanted at a new hotel off the normal beaten path of meteorite hunters. There was less really good material than we had seen in past years but we were able to get the amount we had decided on. Though it would be cherry picked out the next day. We wanted to shop some other places first just to be sure this was where we wanted to buy it. We found some LDG (Libyan Desert Glass) at that hotel as well. Arriving in the early afternoon does not give us a lot of time to play till we have to go to our hotel and check in. So with just a really short stop at the Inn Suites we were off to our hotel. There had been a lot of discussion about the traffic problems from the freeway off ramp closures. But, I found it to be fine. We stay usually just off the freeway north of Tucson. So it was easy.

Thursday evening we had arranged to have dinner with Michael Blood and his charming wife Angel. They had picked one of their favorite Mexican restaurants. That was great. We don’t get to spend much time anymore with them. We nearly closed the restaurant with stories and humor. The food was also excellent.

Friday was the really business day for us. We got everything we had on our list to buy though we had some trades to do later we were pretty much done working by the time we shipped everything off about 1 pm Friday. Now it was time to start having fun. I had gotten a few things for myself by then but not much. I came this year without a list. I did remember to bring the spreadsheet of my collection so I could avoid duplications. Wouldn’t you know it though I bought a second piece of a meteorite right off the bat because I did not look at the spreadsheet.

We had stopped over at the Ramada to visit Blaine and I had found a couple small stones there. Friday afternoon would be spent mostly at the Inn Suites. But, we would not really get around to everyone until on Saturday. Friday we got our first up close and personal look at NWA 5000 the astounding Lunar which Adam Hupe has been working so hard to get prepared and shown. As soon as I saw it in person I knew I wanted to get a piece. Paul agreed but they were just being put out on display and that would have to be taken care of on Saturday. I took more pictures of NWA 5000 than anything else on the trip. WOW what a meteorite!

Friday evening was the traditional Meteorite Birthday Bash. The annual event is also the Harvey Award presentation. Geoff Notkin and Steve Arnold give great amounts of time during the year to promote meteorites and yet each year find a way to additionally serve the meteorite attendees at Tucson with a fun evening of enjoyment. As always everyone had a great time. The Harveys were handed out and the scroll was once again read with appropriate awesome reverence. It was great to see all our old and new friends.

It had been a pretty long day and I hoped for a good night sleep. But, that was not to be. I tossed and turned and the ice machine outside our room seemed to be in constant use throughout the night.

Saturday was to be our day to stay at the Inn Suites until we had seen all the meteorite dealers. But, first it was a visit to Anne Black and Geoff Notkin’s room where Adam Hupe had the NWA 5000 slices and fragments. I had decided on a budget I wanted to spend. But as it turned out I could not find anything in that range that really thrilled me. But, there were two smaller pieces that had really great detail and were cut on one side to show the structure. As it turned out the two together were exactly my budget and really nice. This meteorite unlike some of the other Lunars and Martian seem to have lot of great detail in most pieces regardless of size. Lunars are really a side line in my collection. Something that I feel I need to have but not in large size pieces. These are the largest pieces of the Moon I have and the nicest.


Happy to have gotten to the NWA 5000 before it was really picked through we started working our way around Inn Suites. I had wanted to get a piece of Carancas but wished to see the piece in person before I bought. I found a nice piece that Mike Farmer had. I was crusted on one whole side and large enough for my collection. We had a good time at his room and moved on. Down the way I found five nice fresh unclassified NWAs that I paid a bit too much for. But, I am a sucker for them if they have a great shape. One was shaped just like an Apollo space capsule. Later it would turn out to be very interesting indeed. Almost magical even. Two of the others were oriented with complete lips of blowback material and bubbly areas in the center of the back side. Really cool stones.

As Saturday went on I found a few more items for my collection. One piece of LDG that I saw had not just bands of dark color in it but actual particles of dark brown material in it. So of course I got it, maybe it will someday be found to be chondritic material from the impactor.

Most years I bring home a big weight of meteorite in my luggage. This year I got a few very nice small stones and some fine old falls and some fresh new falls. But, it was not much in weight.

in the Afternoon we made it over to see Erich and Silvia; always a fun time. This year I found several nice meteorites. We ran into several friends while there. Maria Haas arrived and it is always nice to chat with her. Darryl Pitt stopped by for a few minutes as well. Erich had some great stories to tell about some of the meteorites. He got out the laptop and showed us some of the isotope charts on a couple new ones that are unusual. Of course pieces of a couple of those went home with us as well.

We knew that as 5 pm approached the end of our hunting Tucson for meteorites would arrive. After that it would be off to the Michael Blood auction and then on Sunday to the wholesale show to see some friends and get presents of jewelry for wives and children. We always spend the last hours down there at the wholesale show. It is near the airport and we only see these friends once a year now.

We had a relaxing Sunday and our traditional lunch at the Sonic Burger on Valencia near the airport. Got the car filled with gas and turned in without a scratch. What a relief to survive driving in Tucson again. Always full planes on Sunday night going home. Got some nice pictures of the San Bernardino Mountain near Los Angeles as we flew over them . For those who may think LA has no scenic beauty here is that shot.

With that as a short summary of the show for Paul and I it is time to get on with the fun stuff; the meteorites. Here are a few pictures and descriptions.

First is that magical meteorite that looks like the Apollo Space Capsule. I have, I would guess touched thousands of meteorites with rare earth magnets. Never in all that time has the magnet failed to attract the meteorite the second time I brought it near. Well, the little Apollo stone repels the magnet the second time it is brought near. Now let me say at this point that it is not an iron meteorite. It is some kind of stone meteorite. I bought it believing it was an ordinary chondrite with beautiful shape. Now I wonder. It is not very weathered so I would not expect that the inside is very altered. A suggestion offered by one of the persons witnessing the “magic” act was that rare earth magnets can get the iron oxide to briefly hold a polarity because of their extreme magnetic strength. That is certainly still possible for the stone does hold a polarity for a moment. It was quite funny to see the magnet pushed away and spun around by the meteorite.

Magnetic Stone 22.3 grams

I have Sikhote Alin individuals of all shapes and sizes. Oriented and regmaglyphed, but never had I found one with good fusion crust remaining till Tucson 2008. Here is a photograph of that otherwise unremarkable individual weighing in at 26.4 grams.


Like many other meteorite lovers I find type three chondrites to be especially neat. Here is a picture of a slice of NWA 1806 an H3 loaded with chondrules.

The following photograph is of the crusted side of the Carancas fragment that I got. If there has been a meteorite fall in recent years with a strange story connected to it it has to be Carancas. A crater forming meteorite, where the crater is almost immediately a mud pit. And only fragments are recovered of the fall because of the explosion of the stone.