If you're looking for an out-of-this-world gift this Valentine's Day, an auction house is offering up rare meteorite chunks from the , Mars and beyond — for as little as $250.
In an online sale beginning Tuesday, February 9, Christie's auction house is auctioning off 72 meteorites — solid pieces of debris from celestial objects like comets and asteroids that arrive on Earth as , somehow managing to survive their journey through our atmosphere to land on the surface.
"The weight of every known meteorite is less than the world's annual output of gold, and this sale offers spectacular examples for every collector, available at estimates ranging from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars," the auction house wrote on its website.
Included in the collection is a meteorite containing 7 billion-year-old stardust, space gems encased in iron and the fourth-largest slice of the moon. A large chunk of, worth an estimated $30,000 to $50,000, holds bubbles of the planet's atmosphere trapped inside.
According to Christie's, there are a dozen samples from the moon and, and another dozen previously housed by famous museums around the world.
"Everyone has an image in mind of how a meteorite 'should look' – an extraterrestrial body frictionally heated while punching through Earth's atmosphere," James Hyslop, head of science and natural history for Christie's, said in a statement. "Rarely do the objects survive this fiery descent look like that shared ideal seen in this meteorite. It is a wonder to behold and an honor to have been entrusted with its sale."
One object in the collection never hit the ground — a young boy in Morocco found the meteorite in the branches of a tree a day after a— it's worth an estimated $15,000 to $25,000. Yet another hailed from the U.S.' largest meteorite shower in Odessa, Texas, expecting to fetch $40,000 to $60,000.
"If there was ever a time to be awed by the infiniteness of the night sky, we're living in it, but if you want to inspire and see eyes widen — touch a meteorite," said curator Darryl Pitt.
The auction house said that one of the highlights of the sale is a 16-pound "highly aesthetic oriented stone meteorite," estimated to sell for $50,000 to $80,000.
"Unlike 99% of all other meteorites, this meteorite did not tumble or invert as it plunged to Earth but maintained a stable orientation throughout its descent," the auction house said. "The surface that faced Earth showcases elongated flight marks that radiate outwards in this compelling, extraterrestrial aerodynamic form."
The meteorites have been found all over the world, from the Sahara Desert to Chile to Russia.
The "Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites" auction runs until February 23, and interested buyers located in New York can see them in person, by appointment.
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