Sean T. Murray, photo taken in Misty Fjords, Alaska
Sean T. Murray
Where it began
I've been collecting meteorites and impactites since December of 2007, but my fascination and love of space and science has been with me for far longer.
As with most children, I loved space. I have vivid memories of the pride I felt when I memorized the 9 planets of our solar system (Yes... back then it
was 9!) I can remember watching some of the early Apollo missions on television and dreaming of being an astronaut. One of my favorite Christmas gifts
was a little telescope. Even though it was barely good enough to look at the moon, I spent many evenings outside staring up at the night sky.
Though my collection of meteorites and tektites is relatively new, I did find a wonderful "meteorwrong" when I was 11 years old. My father travelled
for his business, and occasionally I was able to join him on his trips up and down the eastern United States. During one rest stop in Tennessee, I
decided to take a short hike in the woods to stretch my legs (and wander about as kids do...) and came upon a large, overgrown, circular depression
in the ground. In the center of the depression I found a pile of shiny metallic stones. I was thoroughly convinced I had found a visitor from outer
space and picked up one of the larger pieces to bring back and show my father. The find fueled a series of visits to the library to read about meteorites,
science and anything space-related. The rock was eventually put away in a box of stones and fossils where it was forgotten for over 30 years.
My First Real Meteorite
Jump forward to November of 2007...
I was watching a about show Libyan Desert Glass (LDG) called
National Geographic Channel
was fascinated about its meteoric origin and place in Egyptian history. It was an amazing thing to consider... a natural event that was so powerful that
it could literally melt the earth into glass. I watched the show on my DVR several times over and decided that I would try to get a piece of LDG. After
a little research, I found that the North Atlanta Trade Center, Norcross, Georgia was hosting the
North Atlanta Gem, Mineral, Fossil, & Jewelry Show
I decided that I would head over to the show and see if there were any specimens of these glasses available from the the dealers.
When I arrived at the show, I was able to find one dealer with some small samples of LDG, but was shocked at the price. Since I could not justify the
purchase, I moved on and continued to look around the rest of the tables. Walking by one dealer, I noticed a shiny, oddly shaped metallic object in one
of the display cases. I asked the dealer what it was and she told me it was an iron meteorite found in Russia in 1947 called Sikhote-Alin. I was shocked.
I had no idea that you could own a meteorite. Up until that moment I had only seen them in museums. I negotiated a price I could live with, purchased the
rock, and headed back towards the entrance of the convention center with my very first meteorite.
Checking in at the Meteorite Association of Georgia table after purchasing my very first meteorite (Sikhote-Alin) on Dec 7th, 2008. A day which will live in infamy.
12/07/2007: Visiting the MAG
table with my first meteorite
On the way out of the center, I noticed that there was a small table near the entrance with a sign reading "Meteorite Association of Georgia (MAG.)"
I thought to myself that this would be an opportunity to show the meteorite to some of these folks and confirm if I had purchased the real thing, and if
I had paid a reasonable price for the specimen. I produced the rock for their inspection and to my surprise one of the members, a collector named Dave
Gheesling, was able to tell me the type of meteorite it was as soon as he saw it and given the weight and the aesthetics of the specimen I'd gotten a very
good deal. Little did I know, but Dave had also taken a picture of me when I came up to the table... so I have a photographic record of my first
meteorite purchase and meeting with the MAG folks. You can see the picture in my Photo Gallery. After a brief conversation, I decided to join the group
and learn as much as I could about tektites and meteorites.
The Adventure Continues
Since that time my involvement in the hobby has been meteoric -- in all senses of the word.
I attended my first MAG meeting in January of 2008 and
created a Website for the group
focusing on Georgia
meteorites and tektites. I joined the International Meteorite Collectors Association
(IMCA #3138) in February of 2008. I've had the opportunity to be out in the field hunting meteorites in Georgia and Arizona, as well as hunting tektites in
the North American Strewn field. I have even spoken to elementary and middle school children about tektites and meteorites. My meteorite collection has
grown to more than 800 specimens from over 225 locations, and my impactite collection is even more extensive, covering all of the major strewnfields and
impact sites. And recently, in April of 2011, I was elected to the position of President of the Meteorite Association of Georgia, following the term of the
founding President, Anita Westlake.
My first "meteorwrong:" Silicon Metal - It is an alloying agent in aluminum mainly used for automobile components.
My first "meteorwrong:"
man-made silica metal
Collecting meteorites and tektites is an amazing hobby. There is always something to learn and someone interesting to meet. Who knew that a simple walk in
the woods for an 11 year old would turn into such a passion. I'll always look back at that first rock, even though it was not a meteorite, as the beginning
of my passion for space and meteoritics.
You might have wondered where that rock is... I recently found it in that old box of fossils and rocks and have
it proudly displayed on my desk. Even though it is a man-made piece of silica metal, probably some old smelting cast off from decades past, it will always
hold a special place in my collection.
The Star Catching Website
focuses mainly on my personal collection of meteorites and tektites. There are so many great resources on the Internet regarding meteoritics, that I did not feel it was necessary to
rehash basic educational references regarding meteorites and tektites. With this in mind, I've provided links to some great information
to help educate, and in some cases entertain, other collectors and enthusiasts. These resources are the very same ones that I use regarding my collection.
Currently, the Star Catching Website contains most of it's intended functionality, but the entire catalog of meteorites and tektites will take some time to photograph and input.
I've placed a few test items in the catalog so that you can see how the currrent Web pages function.