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    Iron, coarse octahedrite
    Sikhote-Alin Mountains, Northeast of Vladivostok, Siberia, Russian

    On February 12, 1947 at 10:30 AM, the largest meteorite shower in human history was witnessed by thousands of people, at distances up to 300 km away from the impact site near Luchegorsk, Siberia. The fireball was brighter than the Sun and cast shadows in broad daylight. During the meteoroid's descent through the atmosphere, it gradually melted and broke apart to form a cluster of smaller meteoroids surrounding the largest meteoroid or "main mass". The fireball effect was created by the melting and ablating of meteoritic metal, forming a corona of molten material around the cluster. At approximately 5.6 km altitude, thermal instability in the superheated nickel-iron main mass caused a gigantic explosion, equivalent to that of a nuclear weapon, which blew it apart into thousands of chunks of red-hot shrapnel, some of which weighed hundreds of kilograms. People who lived within 80 km of the impact site saw the sky burst into flames followed by thousands of smokey tendrils tipped with fire as the shrapnel hurtled away from the blast and fell to the ground. During the explosion and impact event, the clustered meteoroids would have impacted the ground as complete individuals while the main mass was torn apart into thousands of sharp metal shrapnel and impacted the ground as twisted and torn explosion fragments. Luckily, the impact area was devoid of human life or there would've been an incredible human tragedy. Most of the Sikhote-Alin meteoroid was blown into shrapnel, but a small percentage of the total impacted the Earth as complete individuals bearing the trademark regmaglypts, or 'thumbprints", that characterize and help to identify meteorites. Regmaglypts form as the surface metal melts away due to the heat generated by atmospheric friction: As the droplets of metal separate from the surface, a small pit area of lower pressure is created that channels and concentrates hot gases into vortices which act like mini blow-torches aimed along the edges of the pit. Then, a positive feedback loop is created whereby, the deeper the pit, the quicker the melting along the inside walls of the pit, causing the regmaglypts to become more and more pronounced with further heating and melting. These regmaglypted individuals are the rarest and most sought after of all iron meteorites, and Sikhote-Alin has produced absolutely the finest, most aesthetic, regmaglypted meteorites in the world. Sikhote-Alin has the added distinction of producing the best fusion-crusted iron meteorites in the world. Fusion crust forms over the entire surface of a meteorite as some of the melted material cools as it flows away from the melt area like a chocolate shell forms on a dipped ice cream cone. Fusion crust is very rare on iron meteorites because they tend to oxidize easily and rust, destroying the fusion crust.

    The present specimen is a superb, beautifully regmaglypted, complete individual measuring 48 x 30 x 28 cm (18.75 x 11.75 x 11 inches) and weighing 134 kg (295 pounds), completely covered with beautiful gunmetal-blue fusion crust. This is the largest regmaglypted complete individual outside of Russia. No museum anywhere in the world other than Russia has anything larger. A spectacular meteorite of unmatched quality and aesthetics worthy of the most discriminating collector.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    18th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,144

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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