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Meteorites on Display

Well, first I guess I should report that the meteorite that was being classified in the last issue of the magazine and suspected of being a Howardite is a Polymict Diogenite Breccia. It ended up with less than 10% eucrite material. I am not at all unhappy about the results. I have never had a diogenite breccia classified for me so I think it is very cool.

This month it was hard to figure out what to write about. When that happens I put music on the computer and play it in the background. It seems to help with my rare writer’s block. As I am starting this article Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture Finale is roaring out of the speakers. No word from the muse yet. Next on my playlist is three different versions of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in different keys. One of my favorite versions is done by a string quartet. Using of course baroque instruments. All of this has nothing to do with meteorites but listening to music does tend to inspire me when I am blue or don’t feel like writing on a particular day. I am surrounded in my office by space rocks and one might think that they would be inspiring enough, but sometimes I need a bit of music in addition. Even Baroque music sometimes works. As the music played I found myself looking around the office and decided to just feature a few meteorites from the shelves and desktop. They are nothing too special other than they are from outer space, the rarest material on Earth, like nothing terrestrial, and are billions of years old. But nothing too special. The first meteorite is a 1449-gram “ordinary chondrite” that is partially fusion crusted and has some nice thumbprinting. I chose to leave it alone and not grind a window into its surface. That is a bit unusual for me as I like to see the insides of my meteorites. As the painted catalog number indicates this was acquired in Tucson in 2017. The chondrules visible on the light-colored broken surfaces would suggest it is a pretty nice meteorite.

 

 

The Baroque music was just not doing it so it was off to the 50s and 60s starting with Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally and I began to feel a little more creative.

I put ordinary chondrite in quote marks above since as an amateur I dislike the term. I understand that it is a title used in the scientific community to describe the large group of stone meteorites that have chondrules and are not extra special. Not special such as the carbonaceous chondrites or enstatite chondrites. Still, as a lifelong avid collector, none of my meteorites seem really that “ordinary” to me.

 

 

 

This meteorite is just left out on the top of my desk. It will rest stably in several different ways but I mostly have it broken surface down and best thumb printed end up.

The next meteorite is another from my desk that has been there for a couple of decades. (Chuck Berry-Johnny B. Goode playing in the background) It was pretty special when I got it back around 1998 just as the rush of meteorites from Northwest Africa was beginning. I never ground a window on this one either. And again from what I can see on the outside, it is a low petrologic type meteorite maybe a type 4 chondrite. In a different reality, I would get a big batch of these meteorites classified. But the system is rather overloaded all the time without me sending my collection of unclassified NWAs into laboratories. I never painted a number on this one. So I had to weigh it for the article. This worn fusion-crusted stone is 622.2 grams. If this stone had come into the business instead of into my personal collection it would surely have been a cutter. It would have made beautiful slices that would now be spread around the world. But it is still as originally bought and I don’t know what I paid but it was not very much maybe 5 or 10 cents per gram, oh how things have changed. (Ritchie Valens-Come on Let’s Go)

Oldies stopped working for me and so it was on to another type of music I like. (Put a lid on It- Squirrel Nuts Zippers) Oh, how I wish there was a soundtrack along with this article.

 

 

 

The next meteorite to feature is one from on top of a display case. It too has been around for about twenty years. My office is usually a messy wreck of an area and gets dusty up here in the mountains. We are noted for our winds and they carry fine dust that gets everywhere. I am less than vigilant about brushing and vacuuming the rocks. It is a very creative environment but messy and even though there is no one to tell me to clean up my space it seemed appropriate to listen and watch the Official Music Video of Twisted Sister-We’re Not Gonna Take It. I love the beginning when the kid’s dad is yelling at him about his messy room and is blown through the wall by the music.

Back in the day, I made caliper holders for many of the meteorites. This is one of those. I bent the steel rod and brazed huts on each of the ends of the curved rod. Then I brazed on a stem that I threaded on one end to hold the caliper in a base. With a pair of threaded brass rod sections inserted into the nuts, I could tighten the caliper against the stone. It made a nice display to go on a wooden base and under a glass dome. This meteorite is number 30 in my unclassified database. Weighing in at 680 grams it has a pleasing almost spherical shape, good remnant fusion crust, and nice thumbprinting. It is a meteorite that has been on Earth a bit longer than the others shown so far. It has a crack on one side and a piece missing that has been popped out likely by frost heaving. Frost heaving is a process that breaks rocks down over a long time. A crack will form and water will get in the crack. When the temperature drops to below freezing the water expands when it turns to ice and having nowhere to go the ice will spread the crack. Eventually, the crack will open up to where a chunk of the rock will fall off. This stone looks to have lost a small piece to either that process or simply having had the piece broken off. Perhaps it broke on landing as so often happens. But now after so much time on Earth, it is hard to tell. However, the stone is missing a larger portion of what I would call the bottom where I numbered it. Still, I liked the stone years ago even as incomplete as it was, and bought it. I liked that I could see the thickness of the fusion crust along the big broken area. But again there is nothing really special about it other than after decades I have come to love it.

 

 

 

(Arlo Guthrie-Highway in The Wind and Mapleview 20% Rag)

As most of the readers of this article know I have worked on a few meteorites in my lifetime. Actually, it’s probably thousands now. Many just got windows ground and polished on them. Other meteorites got a broken end cut off and were then ground and polished. And many meteorites were cut into slices which now reside in collections and museums worldwide. The last meteorite for this article was a big surprise for me. It just almost knocked me to the floor when I finished an inspection cut and saw what I had gotten. That cut produced a type specimen that went off for classification literally in minutes. It turned out to be a beautiful L6 impact melt. It weighed 1500 grams give or take when I got it and was the strangest colored meteorite I had ever bought. It was far too orange and had a slate-gray interior. Was not sure it was a meteorite but bought it anyway. NWA 7347 also sits on my desk under a glass dome and I remember fondly cutting it and running into the house. I showed it to my wife before writing a quick email to Alan Rubin at UCLA with an attached image of the cut surface. He responded in minutes and asked how soon I could send him a piece. That was a fun day. As I wrap this article up I have made my way to another of the rock groups I like. These songs have been playing in the background. ELO-Hold On Tight To Your Dreams and Calling America

 

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