Meteorites of London, Unusual Meteorites from across the Solar System

Sometimes rather than just experiencing meteor showers, we actually get a meteor that hits the ground. The Natural History Museum in London contains one of the best collections of meteorites in the world, so we have to start this tour of the meteorites of London there.

Once entering the Natural History Museum you can head up to the mineral section of the museum where they have a good selection of meteorites. The best example of which is the large iron meteorite from the Campo del Cielo meteorite impact which hit four to five thousand years ago. The impact created 26 craters with the original meteor being 4 meters in diameter. As this is an iron meteorite the public are allowed to touch it.

But the truly special meteorites can be found in the vault at the back of the mineral section. The first special meteorite is a very rare mars meteorite. There are less than 70 known Martian meteorites, it is believed that 11 million years ago a large impact hit Mars and threw material into space, some of which eventually landed on Mars as meteorites. We know the meteorite is from Mars because it matches the chemistry of the Martian surface as recorded by various Mars landers.

What's amazing is that this Meteorite was actually seen hitting Egypt in 1911.

The next meteorite is the Winchcombe Meteorite which landed in England on February the 28th 2021, the Meteor was captured falling to Earth by the cameras of the UK Fireball Alliance, allowing the meteorite fragments to be quickly located, in the town of Winchcombe.

The next meteorite is actually a collection of small meteorites consisting of diamonds made from stardust. This meteorite landed in Cold Bekkeveld, South Africa in 1838. You can see these diamonds as a smudge of white powder present at the bottom of the tube. These are the oldest things you will ever see as they formed around dying stars billions of years ago before our solar system ever existed.

The diamonds spread around the solar system and some eventually fell back to Earth as meteorites.

The next is the Canyon Diablo meteorite which fell about 50,000 years ago, in Arizona, United states. The meteorite fall actually provided evidence to help determine the age of the Earth.

Next is the Dar al Gani meteorite that actually came from the moon and landed in Libya in 1998.

This is the Vigarano meteorite that fell near the town of Vigarano Pieve in Italy in 1910. What is interesting about this meteorite is that it formed about 4.6 billion years ago about the same time as the solar system. This makes them particularly valuable for research into the early solar system.

The Imilac meteorite again dates back to the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago, this sparkling rock formed in the asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter. They are made up of minerals and metal, remnant materials from the first few million years of the solar system.

They formed inside asteroids at a time when planets were only just coming together. This meteorite is made from iron, nickel metal and a mineral called olivine. The meteorite formed when large bodies of rock, which we call planetesimals, were melting and crashing into each other.

On the planets in the molten state, the heavier iron and nickel in the planetesimals sank to the center to form a core. The lighter rocks then rose to the upper layers, which together are called a mantle. Unfortunately, we still can’t dig down deep enough to access these rocks on Earth so this meteorite and those like it allow scientists to examine what the Earth’s core should look like.

The last meteorite of interest in the natural history museum can be found in the treasury room. The Wold Cottage meteorite is the largest meteorite observed to crash land in Britain, narrowly missing a plowman working in a field at 3pm on the 13th of December 1795. Leaving a crater a yard across. It was witnessed by several people and was said to make explosive sounds as it came down. The fall contributed to the debate on whether or not extraterrestrial matter existed.

The final meteorite I recommend to view is found in the Royal Greenwich Observatory. This is a great observatory that I would recommend going to as there are a lot of astronomy related activities to experience there.

The observatory contains the Gibeon meteorite, which is believed to have impacted Namibia, Africa in prehistoric times. As the Meteorite is made of Iron and Nickel it is another meteorite that you are allowed to touch and probably one of the oldest things you will ever touch.

If you would like to own your a meteorite yourself it is possible to collect meteorites yourself. To see the Meteorites of London in more detail please watch the episode below.

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