My Meteorite Adventure

Meteorite Auction May 18th, 2019

by Laura Hansen

Working at Donley’s has been an experience from the start, I have said many times “Now I’ve seen it all!” I never imagined a collection of Meteorites would come through our doors. That’s right, I’m talking about rocks from outer space that have traveled across our galaxy and landed here on earth. Many people go their entire life without the chance to touch a meteorite, I have had the opportunity to work with over 400. The past 8 months have been nothing short of an adventure.

It all started with the collection of Ronald Hubbs, local collector from Belvidere, IL. When we took in his collection, we immediately contacted Dr. Paul Sipiera, President of the Planetary Studies Foundation to come help us. He and his wife Diane came out to help piece together the initial collection. It was at this point Christina Hollis joined our project. She decided she was ready to sell her extensive collection, including the largest EL4 on the planet. Her collection also includes many beautiful Seymchan Slices, Canyon Diablo, Sikhote Alin and so much more.

Being a rockhound my entire life, I was extremely excited about this project, but I had no idea all the places it would take me. Susan and I were lucky enough to be invited on WGN News, we brought along my favorite Canyon Diablo for their Show and Tell segment. I’m extremely camera shy, being in front of television cameras was a major challenge for me, but an experience I will never forget.

I was also lucky enough to be able to attend The Kettle Moraine Gem and Rock Show this year in West Bend, WI. We brought a selection of meteorites to share with attendees. My daughter joined me on this trip and we had a blast! We met a 12 year old boy named Tyler at this show, I will never forget him. Tyler is studying hard in school to become an astronaut. It was so great to be able to put of piece of the moon (a lunar meteorite) in his hand.

It was around this time we took in three large NWA chondrites. These big boys came all the way from California, and we learned the value of good transporters! Luckily they arrived safe and sound.

Earlier this month my 12 year old son Charlie and I were invited to attend the NCRAL Astronomy Convention in the Quad Cities. We spent the weekend listening to many amazing scientists (including Paul Sipiera) discuss an array of space related studies. I was lucky to have Charlie join me as he had to explain gravitational waves so I could understand.

My family has become as involved as I have in this project, including the occasional radiation / extraterrestrial joke. Our cat Snowflake has been well protected!

Last week we were invited as guests to Member’s Night at the Field Museum. We were given a behind the scenes tour of their Meteorite Studies. Imagine my surprise to find my friend Paul Sipiera on the wall! I also received a great education on the Allende meteorite and it’s importance to meteorite research. This year is the 50th anniversary of this meteorite’s fall.

And just for fun, here is the day Susan held her first meteorite! A local collector brought in his Vinales. At the time it was the newest meteorite fall, landing in Cuba. In this photo Susan is holding a meteorite that had been flying through space less than a month before!

And here we are. The collection is finished. Come Saturday all of the pieces I have worked so hard on and learned so much about will be finding new homes. Thank you to Randy Donley and Susan Hagerty for this adventure, and a special thanks to Dr. Paul Sipiera for all your help, knowledge and friendship. See you Saturday!

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