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The Last Meteorite Found for Year 2009 (Maybe?)

Could this meteorite that was found on December 31st (18:50 GMT) be the very last find for the year 2009?

The weather forecast for the Sonoran Desert looked perfect and my schedule was free for the last few remaining days of 2009. So I arranged a trip out to the desert and invited some of my friends. My long-time rockhounding partner, James LaBarbera, accepted my invitation. After he drove down from Los Angeles, we transferred his gear into my truck and we headed east towards the Colorado River. And after getting supplies in Yuma AZ, it wasn’t long until we were in the middle of “nowhere”.

© Robert Verish 2010
Typical landscape in the Sonoran Desert of North America

Because of the condition of the dirt roads it would still take 3 more hours of slow driving through a maze of BLM-approved ATV trails until we arrived at the desired spot that I “pre-selected” from study of satellite imagery of the area. Through some strange quirk in cell phone coverage, I am able to track our location on my Blackberry, otherwise this portion of the trip could have easily taken twice as long.

© Robert Verish 2010
Other than cholla and ocotillo, there is very little vegetation at this locality.

No meteorites were recovered on the first day, but because most of the day was spent just getting to this “pre-chosen” locality, we decide to return directly to this spot to resume searching the next day.

© Robert Verish 2010
Just discernable in the middle of the above image (and off into the distance) stands a meteorite hunter, giving some sense of scale to the daunting task of searching for meteorites at his locality.

We got a late start, but we eventually found our way back to the same spot from the previous day where I had a “very good feeling” about the surface we were searching. I was a little disappointed to see so many ATV tracks on such a nice surface, but something told me to stop and park the truck immediately. I actually parked just next to a well-used ATV trail. Although having cell phone reception was a god-send for helping us locate this spot, it also made us vulnerable to distracting phone calls. Which was exactly what happened while I was parking the truck: James got a phone call on his cell phone.

Not sure why, but without grabbing any of his gear, James decided to get out of the truck in order to take his phone call. Figuring that James wanted some privacy as he walked around the truck talking on his cell phone, I stayed inside the truck and took my time gearing-up for the morning hike.

It wasn’t very long until I heard a tapping sound on the front passenger side window. It was James, still talking on his cell phone, but he was smiling and pointing straight down, which I immediately knew was the “international sign” for “you just parked next to a meteorite – AGAIN!”

The reason I say “again” is because this has happened more than just a couple times in the past. In fact, this happens often enough that we now measure the distance from the truck to the find, and in this case, it was only the 3rd shortest distance! I insist that there is no way, statistically speaking, to explain this phenomenon.

There’s another version of the phenomenon that is well-known to meteorite-hunters, in which you hike all day but find nothing, only to return to your vehicle and then find a meteorite lying next to it. So, I’m not complaining. I’d rather have the meteorite found immediately, as opposed to finding it only after hiking all day.

Of course, we hiked all day and didn’t find another meteorite.

see image below for close-up
Somewhere in the above image there lies (at least) one meteorite. Hint: follow the fresh ATV track along the left side of this image.

Instead of repeating what I wrote in one of my earlier articles about my method of taking “in-situ” images, I’ll just redirect you to my May 2004 article. You can do so by “clicking” on this link below:

Taking Pictures of Meteorites In-Situ – Images of “in-place” meteorites – as they were found on the ground.

© Robert Verish 2010
The image above is a close-up of the previous image.

see image below for close-up
Above is another in-situ image of the meteorite and the find location. Hint: see the next image.

© Robert Verish 2010
The above image is a close-up of the previous image.

see image below for close-up
The above image is an in-situ view rotated 180degrees from the previous image, now looking back into the direction of the sun, producing a strong reflection of sunlight.

© Robert Verish 2010
The above image is a close-up of the previous image. Notice that James is still talking on his cell phone while searching for more meteorites.

© Robert Verish 2010
The typical close-up view of most "in-situ meteorite" images.

© Robert Verish 2010
The above image is a different version of the "typical close-up view of most in-situ images". I like to take this shot after having extracted the just found meteorite, flipping it over and laying it up-side-down next to its former resting place. This kind of shot gives us unique "once only" information that we can never "go back in time" to obtain. Notice that the scale cube has the "B" on top.

© Robert Verish 2010
After taking the obligatory suite of in-situ images I like to take a couple images of the immediate area around the find location, and at the same time use this as an opportunity to take another image of the "just-plucked" meteorite.

© Robert Verish 2010
The above two images are different in that they are taken with different lens settings. The former was taken in macro mode and the latter was set to infinity. Most photographers strive to keep their shadow outside of the field-of-view of their shot, but in these two images, my shadow is intentionally included.

Although this stony was mildly attracted to a magnet, it did not produce any response on my White’s VSat Goldmaster metal-detector (unfortunately).

© Robert Verish 2010
The above image depicts the 2009-12-31 meteorite find after it has been cleaned in warm distilled water, removing any sand or clay from its exterior. Now that this specimen has been "cleaned" it can be weighed. Its mass is 21.3 grams.

© Robert Verish 2010
The above image depicts the "bottom-side" of this post-cleaned (but pre-cut) 2009-12-31meteorite find.

Since the above images were taken this specimen has been cut. A 6.7 gram sample has been extracted, from which a thin-section will be made and the remaining mass will be submitted as a type specimen.

Preliminary examination suggests that this stony is an equilibrated L-chondrite.

© Robert Verish 2010
Moni Waiblinger and James LaBarbera later that same day (New Years Eve) at the Barona Casino.

We made our solitary find on New Years Eve 2009. At this time of year sunset comes early. And even before sunset, the shadows get long early and get in the way of trying to spot small dark stones on a gravel surface. So, we departed early, giving us plenty of time to travel back to San Diego and meet for dinner with Moni Waiblinger. We decided on a popular buffet at a gaming casino on a small indian reservation called “Barona”. The chefs there put together a special New Years Eve Dinner. Unlike other buffets, here you can reserve your spot and not have to wait in a long line. Of course, this allows the patrons to go off and gamble some more, but James continued with his good luck by winning $400! Using the same slot machine, Moni and I won enough to pay for our meal. The King Crab legs were one of many highlights of the dinner.

Over dinner we discussed our recent trip and wondered whether our find was the last one made for year 2009, and whether it was the last meteorite found for this past decade (if you count year 2000 as the beginning of the past decade). We reflected on the past 10 years, and speculated on what the next 10 years would bring. The buffet closed and we moved the party out into the casino.

© Robert Verish 2010
The author with James inside the Barona Casino toasting the New Year with free glasses of champagne. (Image by Moni.)

The Barona Casino made a special effort for this New Years Party by having a variety of venues for entertainment. Well before midnight they started dispensing the free champagne. Then finally a multitude of colorful balloons fell from the rafters. Happy New Year everyone!

© Robert Verish 2010
As evidenced by the poor quality of the above image, all of the free champagne has degraded my ability to take a decent picture. But we had a lot to celebrate that night.

What a way to end the year. We can only hope that the new year (and the coming decade) will be as forthcoming with new meteorite finds and falls!

© Robert Verish 2010


Bob’s Findings – article titled, Taking Pictures of Meteorites – In-Situ Images of “in-place” meteorites – as they were found on the ground”, in – May 2004.

Link to the website with the latest issue of:
MAPS Vol. 44 Supplement 2009 July

The latest Supplement issue.

My previous articles can be found *HERE*

For for more information, please contact me by email:


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