Rocks from the final frontier

Written by Peggy Fisherkeller, curator of geology at the Indiana State Museum

One of the best parts of my job is meeting people who take their hobbies to the extreme. I might like to look at antique dresses in a book or in a museum, but probably wouldn’t go beyond that. However, there are those special people: collectors of information and objects that are always gathering more in an effort to quench their addiction.

A grouping of Sikhote-Alin meteorites. Photo courtesy of the Indiana Geological Survey.

Meteorites inspire that kind of collecting. Most meteorites are not particularly attractive — at first. They usually come in varying shades of brown. ‘Lumpy’ would be one way of describing a typically-shaped meteorite.

But then you start to think about it more. That hunk of metal didn’t come from the railroad yard — it came from outer space. It could very likely have come from the core of a long-gone planet, the bits of which have been floating around the void for millennia. Probably only recently did it intersect Earth’s orbit closely enough to be pulled in by gravity. And now there it sits.

We’ve got some sitting here on the first floor outside the R.B. Annis Naturalist’s Lab now through the end of July. The meteorites were selected from two local collections to show a range of types. Personally, it was a pleasure putting it together. I really didn’t know very much beyond the meteorite basics when I first came to work here, but the opportunity to talk with enthusiasts has given me a lot more to think about. Enjoy!

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