Meteorites & Minerals

Treasures from the earth and sky . . .

Meteorites

Meteorites are solid pieces of debris that originate in outer space and survive their fiery fall to Earth. The PARI collection includes hundreds of these outer space visitors, collected from around the world.

Most meteorites come from the asteroid belt but a few are known to originate from violent impacts involving space neighbors like our Moon and the planet Mars. The PARI collection includes some of these rare specimens— actual pieces of the Moon and Mars.

Space debris entering the Earth’s atmosphere is called a meteoroid. When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, friction, pressure and chemical interactions with atmospheric gases cause it to heat up and radiate energy. The resulting fiery streaks across the sky have at various times been called fireballs, meteors, shooting stars or falling stars. They fascinated ancient cultures and were often associated with omens from the Gods.

It was not until 1492, in France, that a meteorite was seen to fall and documented as a piece of rock, or stone, from space. The PARI collection includes a piece of that meteorite.


Minerals

North Carolina is the only state in the U.S. where large gem-grade emeralds are found, and the PARI collection contains one of the largest ever found, a 15.3-carat faceted specimen.

In association with the emerald deposits, the mineral Hiddenite was discovered in 1879 in Alexander County. Hiddenite is a rare gem grade variety of the lithium based mineral, spodumene. It gets its unique yellow-green color from the chromium found in its composition. You can see of dozens of examples of emeralds and hiddenite in the PARI gallery, plus a variety of other rare North Carolina stones such as ruby, sapphire, aquamarine, garnet, amethyst and more.