Mineral Symposium 2019: Meteorites set for March 23

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Drawing inspiration from an in-demand special exhibit, Tellus Science Museum’s Mineral Symposium will feature a meteorite theme March 23.

“Every year we choose a theme, and if possible, we try to tie [it] to an exhibit in the museum. ‘Meteorite Headlines’ has proven to be a very popular special exhibit. It's about meteorites that have hit things,” said Tellus Science Museum Executive Director Jose Santamaria, referring to a person and items, such as a vehicle and mailbox. “… These meteorites and the things they have hit have never been exhibited together and probably never will again.

“The symposium was timed to coincide with the last weekend of the exhibit. The theme of meteorites was chosen [as] a way to give the exhibit a grand finale while bringing in great speakers who will cover a wide range of meteorite-related topics. ‘Meteorite Headlines’ ends on Sunday, March 24. I encourage everyone to see it. You will never see an exhibit like this again.”

Ongoing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mineral Symposium 2019: Meteorites will include six presenters: Graham Ensor — member of the British and Irish Meteorite Society, “The Mystery of Meteorites — Fabulous Falls and Fantastic Finds”; Dr. Julia Cartwright — University of Alabama, “Making an Impact: Investigating Impacts in our Early Solar System Through Meteorite Analysis”; R. Scott Harris — Fernbank Science Center, “From Pampas to Altiplano: The Recent Impact Record of South America”; Alessondra Springmann — University of Arizona’s Lunar & Planetary Laboratory, “Links Between Meteorites and Asteroids, Missions to Near-Earth Asteroids, and Arecibo Observatory”; Steven Simon — University of New Mexico’s Institute of Meteoritics, “The Fall, Recovery and Classification of the Park Forest Meteorite”; and Dave Gheesling — Falling Rocks Collection’s curator and co-founder of Meteorite Association of Georgia, “Meteorite Falls in Georgia and the Southeast.” 

“Our Weinman Mineral Gallery reflects the largest part of our collection and a tradition of exhibiting and teaching the public about minerals, mineralogy and the important uses of minerals,” Santamaria said. “The symposium is a way to give the public a more in-depth exposure to a specific theme in mineralogy. It has had a number of formats over the [years]. The current format began several years ago as an all-day event that includes breakfast, lunch and optional dinner, and a day full of talks.

“The purpose is to give those interested in more in-depth knowledge of minerals a day of talks, learning and fellowship with other mineral enthusiasts. We have a regular schedule of lectures and special events that satisfies the public's desire to learn more about the sciences exhibited at Tellus. The symposium is for those who want to learn even more.”

An expansion of the former Weinman Mineral Museum, Tellus opened at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville in January 2009 and became a Smithsonian affiliate during its first year.

Along with the Collins Family My Big Backyard, the 120,000-square-foot museum is comprised of three other main galleries — Millar Science in Motion, Weinman Mineral Gallery and the Fossil Gallery — a 120-seat digital planetarium, solar house and observatory.

As Santamaria noted, “Meteorite Headlines,” which opened Oct. 6 in the Crossroads Gallery, will close a day after the Mineral Symposium.

“The ‘Meteorite Headlines’ exhibit is about meteorites that have hit things and made news,” Tellus Curator Ryan O. Roney said. “Tellus Science Museum’s own Cartersville meteorite struck a local house in the spring of 2009, knocking through a ceiling and hitting a bedroom door. This exhibit was a natural expansion to include similar events from around the world. Meteorites are shown along with the items they have hit, and in a few cases with video of the related meteor fall. The other meteorites on exhibit have hit a car, a mailbox, houses and other buildings, even a person, as well as caused windows to shatter when the meteorites exploded in the air.

“Speakers at this year’s Mineral Symposium will tell some of the stories of these meteorites, but they will also share the science we can learn from meteorites, including the age of the Earth, the history of our solar system and how planets form. People seem to enjoy the exhibit. I have stood in the gallery and listened to museum visitors exclaim, ‘Wow!’ or ‘Crazy!’ Seeing a car that has had its trunk caved in from a meteorite strike is impressive. The stories of these falls have the aura of tall tales, but they really happened.”

To attend the event, individuals need to register in advance by visiting https://tellusmuseum.org/museum-events/mineral-symposium-2019/. The symposium costs $30 for Tellus members and $40 for nonmembers and covers museum admission, the presentations, breakfast and lunch. Dinner will be an additional $30.

For more information, call Tellus at 770-606-5700.