$140k meteorite leads Californian auction

I M Chait auctions is holding a Natural History Auction this weekend, and included in the sale are an excellent selection of meteorites.

Naturally, no meteorite auction would be complete without some specimens from Mars. The finest of these is one recovered from the 1911 meteorite shower in Nakhla, Egypt. The sample is proven beyond all doubt to have originated on the red planet, with the exact chemistry expected.

Mars Meteorite
Mars Meteorite

Large by the standards of incredibly rare Mars meteorites, the black, glistening 7.12g piece is expected to sell for $8,500-11,500.

Whilst marginally less rare than Martian meteorites, lunar meteorites still represent under 0.1% of meteorite finds, and to date none have been found in either continent of the Americas.

An Algerian lunar meteorite offered here is a relatively substantial 5.6g. Whilst it is generally accepted that the moon is not made of green cheese, this meteorite is very unusual in that its plunge through the atmosphere has produced a green veneer, and is expected to sell for $4,500-6,000.

Imilac Pallasite
Imilac Pallasite

Pallasites make up less than 1% of meteorite finds, and are amongst the most beautiful of all of them, with their iron-based matrix studded with olivine 'space-gems'. A slice of the Fukang pallasite recently sold for $15,860.

Amongst even pallasites, the Imilac meteorite from Chile offered some particularly aesthetic pieces. This piece, an impressive 336.6g, came from the Macovich collection and is expected to sell for $6,500-8,500.

Whilst all iron based meteorites are uncommon, octahedrites are not as rare as pallasites. However, it is two particularly large and pleasing examples which are expected to top the sale.

The first, an unusually smooth, lava coloured meteorite discovered just over a century ago in Sweden. Thought to have been polished by a glacier, the 16.1kg piece is a wonder to behold, and expected to sell for $18,000-22,000.

The expected top lot by some margin, however, is expected to be the Canyon Diablo Meteorite, affectionately known as The Wishstone, which is regarded as the finest sculptural example of an American meteorite ever to come to auction.

Canyon Diablo Meteorite Octahedrite
Canyon Diablo Octahedrite
(Click to enlarge)

Produced by an enormous impact in Arizona 40,000 years ago, which is estimated to have been the equivalent of 100 atomic bombs, The Wishstone is very rare in its kinked structure, as usually bends like this would result in the structure snapping during the impact.

The descent has also caused a pleasant natural patination on the octahedrite's surface, similar to a piece of the Gibeon meteorite which recently sold at the same auction mentioned above..

This is the chance of a lifetime for meteorite collectors, and the meteorite is therefore valued at $100,000-140,000. The auction takes place on December 13 in Beverly Hills, California.


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Images: I M Chait auctions

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