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Want to Own a Meteorite from Geoff Notkin's Personal Collection? – Universe Today

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For nearly 30 years Geoff Notkin has traveled the world in search of meteorites, those ancient relics from outer space that have fallen to Earth. He shared his adventures on the Science Channel series “Meteorite Men,” and through lectures and appearances across almost every continent, he has sparked interest in space science and exploration. He has been a devoted meteorite hunter and collector, amassing a large collection. But now, after much deliberation, Notkin has decided to auction off some of his personal meteorite collection, as well as other personal items.

Of course, our first question was, why? Is he leaving the field of meteorite hunting?

‘Poster’ for the Geoff Notkin Collection at Heritage Auctions.

“Meteorites have been the great passion of my life,” Notkin said via phone from his home. “But now, I really would like to see the collection go out into the world, find new homes and be enjoyed by other people. Some of these extraordinary, unusual, and beautiful pieces have only been seen by the person who collected them, and I don’t feel like I would be doing any justice by keeping them in a vault or a display cabinet. These exquisite meteorites deserve to be out in the world to be admired.”

The auction will be conducted by Heritage Auctions, one of the largest collectibles auction houses in the world, through a live and online auction on June 22, 2022. You can see all the details of this signature auction at the Heritage Auctions website. The online auction is already available for placing bids.

A portion of proceeds from the auction will be donated to some of Notkin’s favorite charities and nonprofits, including Beads of Courage and Texas Through Time.

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Geoff Notkin showcases some of the meteorites in his collection that are up for auction.

Notkin, an author, adventurer, photographer, and Telly and Emmy-award winning television host and producer — as well as meteorite recovery specialist — said he is not leaving the world of meteorites behind. He still owns his meteorite store, Aerolite Meteorites, and said he could never turn his back on meteorites.

“I have an enormous amount of gratitude to the meteorite field and for all the expeditions that I’ve been on, and I promise you that I’ll keep some of a couple of favorites,” he said. “But as we grow and change — and yes age – there are other interests in my life that I’d like to devote time to. But new interests don’t mean that we have to give up an old interest, perhaps we just add a new one!”

Geoff Notkin with his “Meteorite Men” co-host Steve Arnold when they found a large iron meteorite in Kansas. Image courtesy Geoff Notkin.

The 136 lots in “The Geoff Notkin Collection” are meteorites from locations around the world.

“They represent to me the very, most enthralling, the most beautiful and interesting pieces that that I’ve found, acquired, or traded over the past 30 years,” Notkin said. “Hopefully, a few of them might go to university collections or museum collections, as that would make me very happy. Most important to me is that they can be seen and enjoyed by the public.”

“This collection is an enormously important assemblage, one of the finest in the world and one that top collectors have been waiting years to see,” said Craig Kissick, Heritage Auctions Nature & Science Director. “Geoff Notkin is not just a TV personality who happened to talk about meteorites. He has spent his life studying meteorites, traveling all over the world to assemble a collection worthy of display in any museum. His passion and love for meteorites is clear when looking at the scope and breadth of this assortment, especially when realizing so many specimens in the collection are the best known examples of the type for the size.”

Here are just some of the featured items in the auction:

Brenham Meteorite End Cut “The Green Brenham”. Pallasite, found in Kansas, USA,  (estimate: $25,000+). Imaged by Heritage Auctions, HA.com
NWA 13227 Martian Meteorite Slice. Martian (shergottite), found in Northwest Africa (estimate $20,000+). Imaged by Heritage Auctions, HA.com
A Sikhote-Alin, an iron meteorite that fell on the Sikhote-Alin mountains in southeastern Russia, in 1947, (estimate $725.) Imaged by Heritage Auctions, HA.com

In addition to meteorites, there are also personal items, such as Notkin’s own metal detector, the vest he wore during expeditions for “Meteorite Men” filming and even his own guitar (yes, he plays!)

Geoff Notkin hunting meteorites in the Sahara desert. Image courtesy Geoff Notkin.

Notkin said that several things in his life came together, prompting him to make the decision to sell part of his collection.

“The pandemic gave me time to sit still and reflect,” he said. “And as I enter my 60s, I think back on how I’ve had a very busy life, full of travel, expeditions, filming and science writing. I haven’t stopped to take a breath very often, and I realized I would like to stay still for a bit! I’ve been searching for meteorites for almost 30 years, and I have so many other interests, too.  So, it’s not it’s at all a case of me being bored with meteorites, as I’ve had such a fulfilling career in the field. But it’s just time for me to explore other interests.”

Geoff Notkin hunting for meteorites in a crater in Australia. Image courtesy Geoff Notkin.

Notkin said he wants to go back to school and get his master’s degree so that he can teach. “I’m an art school graduate who fell in in love with the sciences,” he said. “One of my life goals now is to teach art at the college level.”  Notkin also wants to get involved with locally oriented projects like community theater, working with plant and animal and ecology enthusiasts, and helping to restore natural habitats.

Notkin was first enthralled by meteorites at the age of six when his mother brought him to a museum exhibit in the UK, showcasing rocks from space. His first thought was that one day, he wanted to have his own meteorite.

“My childhood dream definitely came true!” he said. “My cup of experience is very full, and I’m immensely grateful for that. And while I still have plenty of drive and enthusiasm for life and travel and adventure, I’m going to explore some new and different areas.”

Lead image caption: Geoff Notkin hunting for meteorites in the Monturaqui Crater in Chile. Image courtesy of Geoff Notkin.

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Rare clouds that glow in the dark are seen in upper US, Canada and Europe – Daily Mail

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Rare clouds that glow in the dark are the most vibrant in 15 years for sky watchers in the upper US, Canada and Europe

  • Noctilucent clouds were spotted the US, Canada and parts of Europe over the weekend
  • Experts say this is the first time such a vivid display has been seen in nearly 15 years
  • The clouds form  in the mesosphere, which is at altitudes of around 50 miles, when ice clouds interact with the sun that is shining just below the horizon

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The rarest clouds on Earth were spotted by sky watchers in parts of western US, Europe and Canada over the weekend a vibrant display that has not been seen in about 15 years.

Known as noctilucent, these clouds were glowing a stunning blue in the sky just after the sun moved below the horizon.

Reports of the eerie-looking clouds came from Oregon, Washington, Alberta, the UK and Denmark.

Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) form in the mesosphere, which is at altitudes of around 50 miles – making them the highest in Earth’s atmosphere.

The clouds consist of ice crystals that become visible during twilight when the sun is shining from blow the horizon.

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‘There’s really nothing else quite like them,’ the National Weather Service office in Seattle wrote on social media, noting that these are the ‘most vivid displays of noctilucent clouds’ that have been seen in decades in the area.

The clouds typically form in late spring and early summer when the lower atmosphere becomes warmer.

Atmospheric circulation pushes air upwards, which then expands and cools.

Water vapor becomes trapped in the clouds, freezes into ice crystals and forms meteoric dust.

Known as noctilucent, these clouds were glowing a stunning blue in the sky just after the sun moved below the horizon. Reports of the eerie-looking clouds came from Oregon, Washington, Alberta, the UK and Denmark (pictured)

Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) form in the mesosphere, which is at altitudes of around 50 miles – making them the highest in Earth's atmosphere. Picture shows Seattle, Washington

The clouds appear with electric blue and silver streaks and are typically spotted at latitudes of 45 and 80 degrees in the northern and southern hemispheres.

And the stunning display can even be seen from space, as astronauts aboard the International Space Station have shared pictures of the phenomenon.

There is some belief that climate change is also contributing to their development and even to them being seen at latitudes never seen before. 

For example, in 2019, they were seen as far south as Joshua Tree, California, which suggests that with more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, there is more water vapor available for the glowing clouds to form.

Cora Randall, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, told The Washington Post that the increase in clouds could be due to excessive water vapor in the atmosphere from rocket launches. 

Another study suggests that the appearance of NLCs does fluctuate from year to year and even from decade to decade, but that overall, they have become ‘significantly’ more visible.

In 2020, a photographer shared a stunning image of the phenomenon in the early morning hours that gave a 12th century church a ghostly glow.

Ollie Taylor, an astrophotographer, snapped ‘night-shining’ clouds that lit up the night sky in southwest England with spectacular streaks of blue and silver.

The clouds appear with electric blue and silver streaks and are typically spotted at latitudes of 45 and 80 degrees in the northern and southern hemispheres. Pictured is Alberta, Canada

On June 22, Taylor set out on a mission to capture the night-shining clouds in Dorset, which sits on the south coast of England.

He arrived at the Knowlton Church in the middle of a Neolithic monument and started snapping the scene starting at 2am to 2:50am.

‘It was an excellent night of shooting, arriving at location in the evening already greeted by noctilucent clouds better than I had previously seen in the south of England,’ said Taylor.

‘The electric blue complemented the misty landscape and eerie structure.’

Taylor tracked the clouds using a combination of different sources, including space weather updates, webcam observations and a Facebook group, according to the European Space Agency.

In 2020, a photographer shared a stunning image of the phenomenon in the early morning hours that gave a 12th century church a ghostly glow (pictured)

Noctilucent clouds were first described in the mid-19th century after the eruption of Krakatau.

Volcanic ash spread through the atmosphere, making for vivid sunsets around the world and provoking the first known observations of NLCs.

At first people thought they were a side effect of the volcano, but long after Krakatau’s ash settled, the wispy, glowing clouds remained.

WHAT ARE NOCTILUCENT (NIGHT-SHINING) CLOUDS?

Noctilucent clouds, also called polar mesospheric clouds, form between 47-53 miles above Earth’s surface (76-85 km), according to NASA.

Here, water vapor freezes into clouds of ice crystals, which are illuminated when the sun is below the horizon.

They are seeded by debris from disintegrating meteors, giving them a ‘shocking’ blue hue when they reflect sunlight.

The clouds are formed during the summer of both the northern and southern hemispheres.

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NASA: Contact lost with spacecraft on way to test moon orbit – Hamilton Spectator

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WASHINGTON (AP) — NASA said Tuesday it has lost contact with a $32.7 million spacecraft headed to the moon to test out a lopsided lunar orbit, but agency engineers are hopeful they can fix the problem.

After one successful communication and a second partial one on Monday, the space agency said it could no longer communicate with the spacecraft called Capstone. Engineers are trying to find the cause of the communications drop-off and are optimistic they can fix it, NASA spokesperson Sarah Frazier said Tuesday.

The spacecraft, which launched from New Zealand on June 28, had spent nearly a week in Earth orbit and had been successfully kick-started on its way to the moon, when contact was lost, Frazier said.

The 55-pound satellite is the size of a microwave oven and will be the first spacecraft to try out this oval orbit, which is where NASA wants to stage its Gateway outpost. Gateway would serve as a staging point for astronauts before they descend to the lunar surface.

The orbit balances the gravities of Earth and the moon and so requires little maneuvering and therefore fuel and allows the satellite — or a space station — to stay in constant contact with Earth.

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My Thesis in 400 Words: Anne Boucher | Institute for Research on Exoplanets – News | Institute for Research on Exoplanets

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Anne Boucher, an iREx student at the Université de Montréal, submitted her doctoral thesis at the end of 2021. She summarises the research project she carried out as part of her Ph.D here.

During my Ph.D, I became interested in the atmosphere of gas giant exoplanets that orbit very close to their star. Thanks to a technique called transmission spectroscopy, I studied the chemical composition of their atmosphere, which gives a lot of information on their formation and evolution mechanisms. The detailed study of these exoplanets, which we sometimes call hot Jupiters or hot sub-Saturns, provides a better understanding of the physical, chemical, and dynamical processes that govern the atmosphere of these celestial objects.

I mainly used data from the SPIRou instrument, a high-resolution spectropolarimeter that operates in the near infrared and is installed at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. We first observed HD 189733 b, one of the most studied exoplanets, to build the analysis codes. By exploiting transit spectroscopy, we were able to confirm the presence of water and determine its abundance. The results obtained, consistent with previous studies, indicate that the atmosphere of HD 189733 b is relatively clear (free of clouds) and that the planet likely formed far from its star, where it is cold enough to find water in the form of ice. A strong blueshift of water absorption was observed, which could be a consequence of the presence of strong winds in the atmosphere.

Artistic representation of the exoplanet HD 189733 b, credit :  NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

Next, we studied WASP-127 b, a less massive exoplanet, but much larger than Saturn. A recent study of data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the Spitzer Space Telescope could not differentiate between two atmospheric scenarios: a low carbon-to-oxygen (C/O) ratio with little carbon monoxide (CO), or a high ratio with a lot of CO. As this ratio helps to determine how a planet was formed, we decided to use SPIRou, which makes it possible to observe a band of CO not observable with HST and Spitzer. We were able to determine that there was very little CO and a very low C/O, which has rarely been observed, but which is supported by some more realistic training scenarios that vary over time. The SPIRou data also confirmed the presence of water and suggests that, if confirmed, there could even be hydroxyl (OH): an unexpected detection since the exoplanet is so cold.

This work has allowed to develop the expertise of the Université de Montréal in high resolution near-infrared transit spectroscopy, in particular with SPIRou, allowing to explore the atmospheric conditions of hot Jupiters and sub-Saturns. This first joint analysis made on high and low resolution transmission data allowed to obtain better constraints on the atmospheric parameters. This method is proving to be a very powerful tool for the study of atmospheres and will be even more so with the revolutionary capabilities of JWST.

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Anne worked on her Ph.D. at the Université de Montréal between 2016 and 2022, under the supervision of David Lafrenière. Her thesis will soon be available.

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