Serving The Meteorite Community Since 2002

IMCA Insights – December 2010

IMCA Insights – December 2010
Introduction to the New Board of Directors
by the IMCA Board of Directors

This special edition of IMCA Insights is an introduction to the new IMCA Board of Directors. The nine new and old IMCA Board Members introduce themselves in the following essays – enjoy!

Martin Altmann
Board Member

Born and still living in Munich. Very early my interest for astronomy and watching the night sky became noticeable and soon I passed through the typical career of an amateur astronomer. From the first “observations” with a lorgnette in the age of a kindergarten child, via the first small warehouse refractor to the 8”-SC as an adolescent.

Martin Altmann

My meteoritic arousal happened in 1980, when to my elation I found meteorites offered at the Munich mineral show, which weren’t, to my surprise, locked away in the vaults of science or in the displays of the museums, like the German piece of the Apollo Goodwill rock, which I had so often visited in the Deutsche Museum in Munich. The cornerstone of my further passion was a small Mundrabilla individual, acquired from Walter Zeitschel.

After studies of language and literature, with a focus on astronomical medieval source texts, I decided to choose the rocky road and to turn that passion into a profession. And with the Golden Age of meteoritics on the horizon unleashed by the beginning finds in Sahara and Oman, which opened undreamed-of possibilities for the collectors and researches, I started as a full-time meteorite dealer.

In 2005 together with my colleagues Stefan Ralew and Andi Gren we founded Chladni’s Heirs and are since mainly specialized in newly recovered materials of the rare and rarest classes. So that finally, the dream of a little boy, to hold a piece of the Moon in his hand came not only true, but that we became able to share the fulfillment of this dream with so many people around the world.

Anne M. Black

It all started when Dr. Alain Carion, the well-known French expert, asked me to translate his book “Meteorites” from French to English.

Anne Black

I am a French native, who lived ten years in Africa, as a child, then in France and then moved to the USA many many years ago. I was supposed to teach French but I gave up on that quickly and joined the corporate world. Being in Colorado, I soon started picking up pretty rocks all over the mountains, then I discovered the Denver Mineral show and I met Dr Carion who was willing to tell me what all those pretty rocks were. I started helping him during the Denver Show, I did that for some 15 years and learned a lot just talking to him and listening to his explanations, and eventually he got me interested by meteorites too. That led to the translation of his first “Meteorites” book, and then a few of his articles. And it also led to the creation to my website,, almost twelve years ago

I am now retired and thoroughly independent, I travel when possible, and I attend a few shows: Tucson, Ensisheim (Yes, I am a member of the Confrerie de Saint Georges des Gardiens de la Meteorite de Ensisheim!), and of course Denver. My website has grown by leaps and bounds as I got more involved in consignment work. And a few years ago I added thin-sections to the inventory. I have also been involved with the invention and original publication of “Meteorites from A to Z”, and I recently translated Alain Carion latest “Meteorites” book; all the while watching the phenomenal growth of the IMCA.

Bob Falls
Board Member

Let me tell you a little about myself and meteorites. I began the journey into meteorite collecting in 2003 when Carol (my wife) gave me a 42.3g oriented Sikhote-Alin as a gift. We are both amateur astronomers and have spent many nights in the mountains of Colorado watching meteor showers which inspired her to purchase the Sikhote sample for me. She had no idea what that little sample would start! The first day was spent fascinated with this sample viewing it with an eye loupe to examine every regmaglypt and flow line it would show me. I just could not get over what this sample represented and the journey it had traveled to end up in my hand.

Bob Falls

This led to many hours searching the Internet for more information about meteorites, leading me to the Denver Gem and Mineral show and then on to Tucson. Through the research and shows I have met many, many outstanding people in our meteorite community and one of them, Anne Black, introduced me to the IMCA and I became a member.

I really enjoy participating with the IMCA through supporting the Encyclopedia of Meteorites and now as a board member. Through the years I have met many IMCA members at both the Tucson and Denver shows and look forward to meeting more of you!

Dave Gheesling
Board Member

I am chairman and CEO of FEI Group, America’s largest residential trade contracting organization, based in Atlanta, Georgia ( I am also is a co-founder and director of The Scotty Foundation (, which helps pediatric cancer patients and their families both directly and through Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, The Ronald McDonald House and Camp Sunshine. I live in Milton, Georgia, with my 7-year-old daughter Maddie and a few rocks from space.

Dave Gheesling

I am also one of the a founding members of the Meteorite Association of Georgia (, if you live in this part of the US, let me know if you would like to join us.

A few years ago I developed an Outreach program, and I know do Presentations to schools as often as possible. I love introducing the subjects of meteorites and meteoritics to several thousand students in Georgia each year, using specimens in my collection as examples. Some of my collection and the work I do with students can be seen at
The picture above is of one of my favorite and prized specimens: a 277.6-gram complete L’Aigle individual.

Maria Hass

I have been a meteorite collector, hunter, and IMCA member for seven years. My meteorite collection started innocently enough with a sculptural 200-gram Sikhote Alin shaped like a perched buzzard. Now it houses a boot, Scotty dog, comma, bullet, canoe, whale, angel wing, peeper frog, a flock of seagulls, five hearts, a duck playing hockey, a dolphin, flying saucer, and a dead-ringer for Bob from the movie Monsters Vs. Aliens.

Maria Haas

I am a small-time hunter who now lives in Arizona, where there is no shortage of strewnfields to peruse. One of my proudest moments as a hunter came several years ago when I hit the Arizona Trifecta, having found a stone in each of the Holbrook, Gold Basin, and Franconia fields plus an iron in Franconia, all within a span of four days. The credit for my finding that particular Gold Basin goes to Jim Kriegh, who practically sent me to the exact spot where I would find that stone less than twenty minutes after having arrived there.

My background is that of an Organizational Consultant, from which I have gained much experience managing many different types of businesses and many types of business-related difficulties. I also have a sales background and experience fundraising. I have been the IMCA “Treasurer to the Stars” since 2007 and value many IMCA members and non-members as my greatest friends.

Jeff Kuyken

I remember growing up in a semi-rural town called Somerville located on the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne, Australia. But there was one night I remember in particular. I was dragged outside by my parents one cold night during 1986 to see something called Halley’s Comet. My father showed me how to use the big cumbersome binoculars and I could distinctly make out the white fuzzy object hanging in the dark starlit sky. I was told it was a comet zooming through our solar system and something that I would not see again until I was an old man. Wow I thought! And that set off an interest that would persist through to the present.

Jeff Kuyken

Some 15 years later I was browsing the internet one day and stumbled across Jim Strope’s website selling Sikhote-Alin meteorites. Like many people, I was amazed to discover that there was a whole world of meteorites out there and better yet… you could actually own them!!! I still have that first small Sikhote I bought from Jim and will always hold onto it. I wanted to know all I could about meteorites and learn as much as possible but in those days there were not a lot of websites and good photos of the various meteorites were few and far between (even in books). It was through that pursuit of information and decent photos of meteorites that my website Meteorites Australia was born. If I couldn’t find it then I’d make it myself. My plan for Meteorites Australia right from the beginning was to build a site slowly over time and use that goal to teach myself about meteorites along the way. It’s almost a decade since then and now a number of scientific institutions use the website as a reference so I guess it has now come full circle.

During that same time period, the IMCA was born and quickly became something I wanted to be a part of and help with. In July, 2004 both Norbert Classen and myself were invited to join the Board of Directors and we became part of the team that would take us from an initial idea to a full legally incorporated international association. I am now in my third term as a Director and holding my second officer position as Vice President. The other position was that of Secretary during my first term. It has actually been a privilege to be part of building something for meteorites that will hopefully be around many years into the future and to make many friends along the way.

Quite a bit has changed since that first small Sikhote. I started collecting smaller specimens of just about everything I could find so I could learn as much as possible about each classification. It took several years but I eventually started to move my collecting habits in a particular direction towards primitive chondrites. I still like to collect interesting pieces of other classes but I find these meteorites to be particularly interesting and important in what they represent. After all we are all just chondrites and stardust!

So where to from here? Well stay tuned because my biggest meteorite project is in the pipeline!”

Larry A. Lebofsky
Board Member

Before I retired several years ago, I was a planetary astronomer for 30 years. While I have published papers on Mercury, the Moon, Jupiter’s satellites, Saturn’s rings and satellites, Pluto and its large satellite Charon, and comets, the main focus of my professional research was the study of asteroids—the source of most of the meteorites in our collections.

Larry Lebofsky

My interest in meteorites came about when I first started studying the reflectance properties of asteroids and was able to identify clay minerals on Ceres and other low-albedo asteroids by comparing their spectra to the spectra of CI and CM chondrites.

Twenty years ago, my wife, Nancy, and I felt that we could use our science and education skills in order to bring the excitement of astronomy to elementary and middle school teachers and their students, and so we became science educators. For this, Nancy and I now have asteroids named after us, 3439 Lebofsky and 5052 Nancyruth. I also was honored by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society with its “Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science” in 2000.

Now that I am retired from my full-time university position, I am devoting most of my time to science education, including five years as editor of Meteorite magazine (with Nancy). However, I still do some observing. I am part of a team of amateur astronomers who are fortunate enough to get telescope time on Kitt Peak’s 2.1-meter telescope to do follow-up observations of Near-Earth Objects, thus improving our knowledge of their orbits so that we can find them the next time they pass by the Earth and try to determine if they will come close enough to provide us with more meteorites or leave a large hole in the ground!

Andrzej S. Pilski

I live in Poland, in the small town of Frombork, where Nicolaus Copernicus spent most of his life, died and was entombed in the cathedral, where his remains were identified recently.

Andrzej S. Pilski

A small crater, possibly meteoritic, is situated close to town. Researchers found that there is four times more of meteoritic dust close to the crater than elsewhere. I spent many hours looking for meteorites around that crater, with no result. It has long been a cultivated area and meteorites could have been removed from the fields together with many common terrestrial stones. According to a recent examination the crater is about 8000 years old, so it is not of glacier origin.

My job and hobby is to show astronomy science for the general public in a small planetarium next to the Copernicus Tower. I have worked here nearly 40 years. I am married, have two children and three grandchildren.

About 20 years ago I realized, that meteorites may be a great way to make astronomy more familiar for people. They offer the possibility to look closely or even touch a piece of a distant celestial body.

My first meteorite, Canyon Diablo, I bought from Bob Haag. Now I am an experienced collector, preparator of irons, and author of many articles (you could read some in the Meteorite magazine) and a few books on meteorites (in Polish). First I wish to help Polish collectors, who are not very fluent in English. While collecting meteorites I have found many friends in many countries and I feel it is a great bonus.

In the picture above: Andrzej S. Pilski and the 35 kg endpiece cut and etched by him from the largest Morasko mass (164 kg).

Sergey Vasiliev
Board Member

I am a Russian living in Prague, Czech Republic. My first meteorite hunting trip was in 1992 to the Sikhote-Alin strewn field.

Sergey Vasiliev

In 1993 I came to the Tucson Show for the first time and I was able to see Robert Haag’s meteorite collection. After that I completely moved from minerals into meteorites.

I have made several meteorite hunting trips to the hot deserts. Gobi, Kara-Kum, Sahara, Omani desert, Kalahari. And the picture, above, shows the large mass of Ghubara that I found in Oman.

I like computer coding and creating some online projects. The biggest one so far has been the Encyclopedia of Meteorites.

This article has been edited by Anne Black and Norbert Classen

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