Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Catch A Falling Star

What a show the Geminid meteor shower provided! Unfortunately, while the meteors were easy to see with the unaided eye, they were not so easy to photograph. 

In consequence, please enjoy the above picture, taken last year around this time, of a huge green meteor above the Mojave Desert. To get this, photographer Wallace Pacholka took 1522 shots, only 48 of which captured meteors, but this one made it all worthwhile. Last year, the meteors were falling at the rate of around 150 per hour. This year it seemed considerably greater.

"Sky iron" is a fun subject. As we all know, some phurbas are made of meteorites. So, too, are various amulets.

Above, is a nice specimen that has been with me for many years.  It is iron, with about 7% nickel, and other minute traces. This is from the Campo del Cielo fall, around 620 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The fall is estimated to have occurred between 2,200 to 2,700 BCE. The fall's craters were discovered -- in our era at least -- in 1576. The meteorite in question is regarded as the heaviest one on record: over 100 tons have been recovered so far, with the largest fragment weighing in at 37 tons.

Meteorite fragments can exhibit unusual characteristics. Do you see the finger impressions in the specimen above?


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