I am currently attending a 2-week research program at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Intitute(pictured), AKA PARI, a world-class radio and optical astronomical center located in Rosman, North Carolina. During my time here, I was able to briefly tour the Rock and Meteorite gallery here and decided that it would be worthwhile to share my findings with you all. The gallery had a great many meteorites, gemstones, and other interesting artifacts in their collection. This is a largely image-based post, so prepare for that!
Meteorites are classified into three main categories; iron, stony-iron, and stone, all based off the mineral composition of the meteorite. Stony meteorites are by far the most common and are further divided into two categories; chondrites, which were formed through the composition and combination of chondrules, and achondrites, which were not formed in that particular way. All of these types of meteorites will be shown in the following images – see if you can tell the difference!
One thing to note: meteorites, rather than being named for the person that discovered them, are instead named after the nearest post office to the discovery. However, in certain locations, there may not be a post office, and as such, the meteorite fragment is given a designation specific to the general area in which they are found. An example of this can be found below – this fragment is the 7017th one found in Northwestern Africa.
In the following iron meteorite, you can see a crystalline diagonal pattern formed in the iron. This pattern is very rare among meteorites and in order to form it, the rock can cool no quicker than 1 degree Fahrenheit per 1000 years!
Next up is a stony-iron meteorite that fell in Belarus, particularly unique for the clear, visible distinction one can see between the iron and stone portions on the shown surface.
Just below is another example of an iron meteorite – this one is massive, weighing in at a whopping 250 pounds! The employees at PARI joke that if someone can pick it up and run 50 feet with it, they get to keep it.
Here, you can see small fragments of a meteorite, that in 2013, famously fell in Russia in a blazing ball, eventually causing 1,491 injuries – many videos of this very incident can be found online.
The next two meteorites fell here in North Carolina!
Following this, we have meteorites that fell from both Mars and the Moon, which came here by being ejected out of the atmosphere by a separate impact on these two celestial bodies.
Here is a meteorite that fell in Ensisheim, France in 1492 and was called the “Thunderstone”. In addition, there is a woodcut print and 2 pages with more information about the meteorite and print.
Finally, in the meteorite section of this online gallery, we have a piece of a meteorite found near the D’Orbigny post office in Argentine. This piece of the rare Angrite class of meteorites is the largest of the D’Orbigny meteorite and is worth upwards if $1.5 million!
Below, you will find various types of minerals found in the gallery, including emerald mined in NC, uranium, trinitite formed by first ever nuclear blast, mica(stay tuned for more on that), and kyanite(an aluminum silicate mineral).
Finally, we have things such as petrified rainbow wood, fossils, and even a hadrosaur egg!
Well, that concludes a gallery of some of my favorite items on display at PARI! I’ll be continuing this series of sorts with one or two more posts about fascinating rocks here…