Image Courtesy of Christie’s
The only thing worse than getting struck by lightning or a large, flying bird is getting struck by a meteorite. Thankfully, the chances of this happening to you are incredibly low — according to National Geographic, there is only one confirmed case of a meteorite striking a person. So perhaps it’s no surprise that a piece of the offending space rock, called “Sylacauga” after the town it landed in, just sold today for one hell of a price tag.
According to Christie’s, the auction house obtained a portion of the famous falling rock from the Smithsonian, as part of an online auction featuring an array of meteorites, including some estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old. The rock has been stowed away since it struck a woman on the hip after blasting through the roof of her home on November 30, 1954 in Talladega County, Alabama.
“Estimated at $US5000 ($6,790)-8000, the 10.3 gram specimen of Sylacauga sold for $US7500 ($10,184) ($US728 ($989)/g) including the buyer’s premium,” Daryl Pitt, meteorite consultant for Christie’s, told Gizmodo. “By way of example, the price of 24K gold today is $US39.05 ($53)/g and so this specimen sold for 18.5 times its weight in gold.”
According to Pitt, Sylacauga wasn’t alone. Other pieces, like a slice of a Gibeon Meteorite that originated from the iron-rich core of an ancient asteroid, sold today as well. If you were in the market for a pretty piece of space junk, today was your day to thrive.
“More than half of the lots sold for their high estimate or more including, at $US37,500 ($50,922), a specimen which contains the oldest matter mankind can touch,” Pitt said. He was referring to the calcium-rich deposits inside a recently-sold carbonaceous meteorite from Chihuahua, Mexico, which are estimated to be 4.567 billion years old. “It was a very, very good day for meteorites at Christie’s.”
Meteorites come mainly from fragments of asteroids located within the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. These hunks of space rock were able to make it all the way through Earth’s atmosphere and apparently, to Christie’s. Owning a piece of something that old and that foreign isn’t cheap, but if you’ve got money to blow, why not?
(Also, if you bought one of these meteorites today, do let me know if you’d be interested in paying off my student loan debt. I went to NYU.)