Welcome to my collection of FALLING ROCKS. These meteorites are posted for anyone to peruse and enjoy. Otherwise, they're just locked up in an undisclosed location or on loan at a museum for relatively few to see.
I am a collector of meteorites and a member of the International Meteorite Collectors Association (#5967), the Meteoritical Society and the Meteorite Association of Georgia. As I've found most of the dialogue that takes place between collectors happens over the Internet, it seemed fitting to post some of my collection here as well.
My interest in astronomy, cosmology and all things outer space began early in life, in large part due to my mother's interest in the same. I still remember quite well watching Carl Sagan's Cosmos with her in the living room when I was 12 years old in early 1980 (and I have since read all of his books). And it was only a few years later in 1986 that Halley's Comet made its predictable 75-year return into view. My family all got up in the middle of the night early one chilly morning in Georgia to see it for ourselves on the horizon from the top of Sweat Mountain.
I'd always thought that was an incredible sight, until Hale-Bopp hit the scene in the spring of 1997. It is unknown how many traffic accidents I came within a frog's hair of causing during that time, watching that comet shine brightly every night while driving around Naples, Florida, where I lived at the time. The ultimate view, for me at least, came on a spring ski trip to Park City, Utah, that year. At a friend's house out there we spent the night hanging out in his back yard and talking about Hale-Bopp, and its tail must have reached across the entire night sky in those low light, cool air and high altitude conditions.
It is also impossible to recall how many times I've lain on the ground to stare at the sky in remote parts of the world to watch for the occasional meteor or merely enjoy the awe of what that sight represents. In particular, the night skies of the Whitsunday Islands in Australia full of incredible sights such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the legendary (at least to those of us Up Over) Southern Cross and the occasional meteor are permanently etched into a fond memory since a wonderful week spent there sailing with good friends back in 1999.
Perhaps as a sign of things to come, not long after that Australian junket and back in my hometown of Atlanta, I witnessed the one and only fireball I've ever seen. The embarrassing truth is that I did not know exactly what it was at the time, so any hope of recording things like the azimuth (or even the date, as at this point I have no idea) was lost at the starting line. Every time I drive in the westbound lanes of I-285 at the junction of Roswell Road I figuratively (and sometimes literally) kick myself, wondering where in West Georgia, Alabama or even perhaps Mississippi that meteorite struck the ground (while it turns out that there were several witnesses, no meteorite was ever recovered).
Then the defining moment hit like a ton of bricks (or more like a ton of coarsest octahedrite). I was shopping in a store in the Vinings area of Atlanta, where I lived at the time, and to my complete amazement they had a meteorite for sale. I will never forget the shock and awe (thank you for the descriptive, Tommy Frank) I felt at that very moment sometime in late 2000 or early 2001. It was a 136 gram prototypical complete individual from the Sikhote Alin witnessed fall on February 12, 1947. Under my breath all I could say was, Holy-you-know-what! I bought it immediately and carried it all over the place with me like a kid with the most unbelievable new toy. It took another year or so to figure out that there was an international web of hunters, dealers and collectors on the Internet and the rest is history. Prior to that moment, I'd thought it virtually impossible to own a primordial piece of our solar system. There was no doubt that scientists and museums held all of that material institutionally and that if a meteorite was somehow to land at my feet there would be government officials at my doorstep the next morning packing heat and ready to extract that material from my possession.
This is stating the axiomatic as if it were profound, but what I would give to have found meteorites a decade or more earlier than I did! The good news is that they provide all who care to explore them the absolute ultimate in perspective. It should be impossible to think one has any problems in life no matter how dire the current circumstances might be as soon as one grasps an understanding of these messengers from space and what they mean.
Not much later, I made my first trip to Mecca, Bob Haag's basement vault, and acquired, among other things, a 50 gram Murchison. To think that this rock has at least 92 amino acids in it and only 19 are found elsewhere on Earth! Who cares that most of them are left-handed? Bob's description of this oriented meteorite as "an egg" set the hook for life.
Now my father has also acquired an interest in these rocks from space (thank you for the descriptive, Richard Norton), and has started building a collection of his own and spends time with me cutting and preparing slices of NWA chondrites in the garage. And my primary goal in collecting and promoting, to some extent, meteorites is to expose the kids of today to them such that even just one may become a meteoriticist tomorrow. I can only wonder what I might have done differently with my life had the planets lined up (pun intended) and I'd been able to hold a rock in my hand older than Earth itself before my career path was already in place.
To quote Henry David Thoreau, "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
PS - I have used FALLING ROCKS as the name and identity for this web site in an intentional misrepresentation of reality. Meteorites are not objects that have fallen to our planet from the sky, but rather they have collided with us (or vice versa, depending upon one’s frame of reference) by virtue of the fact that we both reached a common point of intersection in our orbital paths simultaneously. I like the name FALLING ROCKS very much for quite a few reasons, but most significant is the way in which it represents the egocentric thinking that not so very long ago inhibited us from understanding the true origin of these most special objects. I can still hear them now, “Of course these stones did not fall from the sky! How could they have gotten up there in the first place?!”
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© 2007 fallingrocks.com | Site by Sean T. Murray