A British collector's impressive meteorite collection.
Before meteorites were recognized as being pieces of extraterrestrial matter that had fallen from the sky, a few rare meteorites were already being preserved in mineral collections. Collections of meteorites really began two hundred years ago, after the meteorite shower in L'Aigle, France. The scientific value of meteorites has been recognized since that time. Meteorite collections are special because they are devoted to preserving our planet's heritage and spreading scientific knowledge. They are also extremely important research tools for the scientific community. Meteorites are clues to the formation of the Sun and its planetary procession. They are gifts from the sky that are worth their weight in gold! We would have to invest colossal sums if we wanted to go collect pieces of asteroids with manned or unmanned missions.
Today, hundreds of institutions and collectors throughout the world have meteorite collections. The meteorites are preserved in different forms: fresh, unbroken fragments are attractive and educational; main masses have historic value; slices reveal the internal structure and the composition of meteorites; and thin sections are used for microscopic analysis.
Thin sections are slices of meteorites so fine that light can pass through them. They are placed under a petrographic microscope and observed using filters that show the different minerals, which give the bright colours.