'Most legendary meteorite in Texas' could auction for $42,500


2015-06-26 12:00:53


'Most legendary meteorite in Texas' could auction for $42,500

Frightened Texan ranch hands saw this exceptionally rare Pena Blanca rock crash to Earth back in 1946

Collectors with a passion for rare rocks from outer space can look forward to Heritage Auction Galleries' Signature Natural History Auction in Beverly Hills, on June 6.

Natural History auctions are often the most varied - and impressive - in the collectors' markets. Heritage's saleshould proveno exception, featuring a range of space meteorites and ancient bones and fossils for sale.

Among the auction's highlights is a widely known piece of historic space rock Americana: Texas State's most legendary meteorite recovery.

On August 2, 1946, several ranch hands werelounging near a stock pond in Brewster County, Texas,when they wereinterrupted by a sonic boom piercing through the skies.

The hands - by then frozenwith fear - looked on, stunned, as minutes later a large meteorite plunged into a pond right before their eyes.

One of the hands drove out to recover the rock. And was a good thing that he did, because Pena Blanca is one of the very few meteorites to dissolve in water.

The Pena Blanca specimen has a rim of fusion crust, and exhibits the classic brecciation (fragments of minerals and rocks cemented together) of aubrite meteorites (Click to enlarge)

The Pena Blanca rock itself is an aubrite meteorite; a very rare achondrite (meaning that its stony surface doesn't contain round grains) composed primarily of orthopyroxene enstatite, derived from molten lava.

Aubrites are believed to originate from 3103 Eger, a near-Earth orbiting asteroid whose spectrum perfectly matches this rock's subtype.

Pena Blancais certainly rare: of the more-than 40,000 meteorites known to exist, there are only 67 known aubrites. Many of these were found in Antarctica, and are thus off-limits to collectors.

What's more, this specimen also features a giant crystal of enstatite - which is among the largest non-metallic, extraterrestrial crystals known to exist.

Each of these factors make this a pre-eminent example of Pena Blanca, worthy of the finest natural history museums in the world.

Measuring 10 x 6 inches and weighing 892 grams (two pounds), this outstanding rock was formerlyin the Macovich Collection of Meteorites. Itwill auction at Heritage with an estimate of $30,000-42,500.

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