This week Hal takes a "vested" interest in space rocks of all kinds.
Have you ever touched a rock that was not this earth? If you have visited the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, you may have been in the moonlight. But other than that, have you touched a moon rock? A rock from Mars? Or even an asteroid?
That's because, on earth, there's something in our solar system known as the Great Bombardment. Pretty much everything in the early solar system was getting smacked pretty regularly by big hunks of rock, asteroids, and more that were zipping around. These collisions were made on the Moon and on other places in the solar system. And these hits were sometimes massive, and blasted hunks of rock out into space. These rocks floated around for billions of years, and every now and then, some of them would turn into the Earth and become meteors. And some of these rocks made it to the surface to become meteorites. So, you can find a bit of, say, the Moon, stuck to Earth rocks. In fact, I have a small moon rock myself.
The asteroid Vesta, about the size of Iowa, is high in the Colorado sky right now. It's a look. And we've got a spacecraft called Dawn, that spent a year in orbit around Vesta, analyzing its surface. And from that analysis, we now know that there are bits of Vesta on Earth! See you at a rock and gem show in Denver recently.
If you'd like to take a closer look at Vesta, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and free public star parties.