Guy J. Consolmagno, 2006. "A brief history of the Vatican meteorite collection", The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections: Fireballs, Falls and Finds, G.J.H. McCall, A.J. Bowden, R.J. Howarth
Download citation file:
The Vatican meteorite collection, one of the largest in the world, is based on the 19th century collection of Adrien-Charles, the Marquis de Mauroy, which was donated to the Vatican in three parts, by the Marquis in 1907 and 1912, and by his widow in 1935. Supplemented since then by further donations and trades, it contains more than 1000 pieces representing nearly 500 different meteorite falls. It is curated today at the Specola Vaticana, the Vatican Observatory, located in the Papal Summer Home at Castel Gandolfo, Italy. The collection has played a role in the long history of Papal support for astronomy, going back to the 1582 Gregorian Reform of the Calendar and continuing today with the Observatory's activities in connection with spacecraft missions to the planets.
Figures & Tables
This Special Publication has 24 papers with an international authorship, and is prefaced by an introductory overview which presents highlights in the field. The first section covers the acceptance by science of the reality of the falls of rock and metal from the sky, an account that takes the reader from BCE (before common era) to the nineteenth century. The second section details some of the world's most important collections in museums - their origins and development. The Smithsonian chapter also covers the astonishingly numerous finds in the cold desert of Antarctica by American search parties. There are also contributions covering the finds by Japanese parties in the Yamato mountains and the equally remarkable discoveries in the hot deserts of Australia, North Africa, Oman and the USA. The other seven chapters take the reader through the revolution in scientific research on meteoritics in the later part of the twentieth century, including terrestrial impact cratering and extraordinary showers of glass from the sky; tektites, now known to be Earth-impact-sourced. Finally, the short epilogue looks to the future.
The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections should appeal to historians of science, meteoriticists, geologists, astronomers, curators and the general reader with an interest in science.