Photo: The Blaze
On Oct. 14, pieces of asteroids, the moon and Mars that have landed on Earth go up for sale in a public auction in Manhattan.
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These meteorites may have originated in space, but many create tantalising tales — or hint at future calamity — when they collide with Earth. From the more than 125 meteorite pieces and related material going up for sale at Heritage Auctions, here are five with the strangest space-rock stories.
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Almost 20 years ago, on Oct. 9, 1992, video cameras at Friday night football games in the northeastern United States caught the fiery descent of a meteorite that would end its fall by punching through the trunk of a red Chevy Malibu parked in Peekskill, N.Y. The owner of the car, 18-year-old Michelle Knapp, sold the car within a week for 25 times the $400 she paid for it when buying it from her grandmother, according to the catalogue.
Not only are two pieces of this meteorite for sale, collectors also have a chance to purchase the original title to the Malibu and the bulb from the rear tail light, which exploded when the car's trunk was punctured by the meteorite.
In 1492, a stone fell from the sky outside the walled city of Ensisheim, located in the Alsatian region of France, preceded by 'a great thunder clap, then a long noise that was heard far around,' the auction catalogue quotes a 16th-century document. The stone's descent was seen as a sign from God; the extraterrestrial origin of meteorites would not be accepted for another 300 years. The Ensisheim meteorite was brought into the city and chained up in church to keep it Earth-bound. It is Europe's oldest preserved meteorite.
On Aug. 14, 1992, residents of the Nigerian city of Mbale heard a loud explosion that became a rumbling, accompanied by a white smoke trail in the sky. Then rocks rained down, pelting an area of about 1.9 by 4.3 miles (3 by 7 kilometers). One small meteorite even struck a young boy after ricocheting off a banana tree. Because the region was being ravaged by AIDS, Mbale residents believed the meteorite shower brought a cure from God, and they ground up the stones into a paste that was eaten or applied topically, the auction catalogue recounts.
Within several months, 426 stones weighting 238 pounds (108 kilograms) had been recovered from this large meteorite shower.
The auction, held by Heritage Auctions, is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion at 2 East 79th Street in Manhattan.
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