See a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite


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Essential information

Opening times: 
10am–5.30pm daily
Planetarium & Astronomy Centre

Would you like to see something that is as old as the Earth and the Sun itself? Come to the Astronomy Centre at the Royal Observatory.

Our meteorite is a  large hunk of mostly iron with just under 10% of nickel. It was formed around the same time as our Sun and the Earth and after a leisurely tour of the Solar System as the centre of an asteroid, it came crashing down into southern Africa as the Gibeon Meteorite.
The Nama people used smaller bits of the meteorite for tools and countless chunks remained scattered over a large area. In 1836 Englishman J. E. Alexander collected samples and sent them to London. John Herschel confirmed they were indeed not of this planet.
We’ve sliced away one side of the meteorite so that you can see what it looks like inside and it has this beautiful pattern of metal crystals inside - those crystals only form if the metal has cooled over millions of years, just a few degrees every million years.
This remarkable object is in the Royal Observatory in the Astronomy Centre - entry is free.