UCLA Meteorite Gallery Poetry Contest

Celebrate National Poetry Day in space!

Location: Virtual Contest
Time: 12PM

In celebration of National Poetry month, we invite all enthusiasts to submit up to 3 poems about meteorites, asteroids, or impacts. We welcome all poetic forms such as haikus, sonnets, limericks, free verses, etc. After careful review of all submissions, we will publish the top 10 poems here on our website and the top 3 poems will be posted in the UCLA Meteorite Gallery. Please submit all poems to Juliet Hook at by May 15th, 2021.

We kick off this contest with an introductory poem by our curator Dr. Alan Rubin.

Waltzing 253 Mathilde

Dr. Alan Rubin

Crushed and cratered, shattered, pelted,
Shocked and fractured, sintered, melted,
Blackened, jumbled, porous, blocky,
Rent, fragmented, vuggy, rocky,
Slowly spinning in the void;
It's a battered asteroid!

A Star in a Stoneboat

Robert Frost

Never tell me that not one star of all
That slip from heaven at night and softly fall
Has been picked up with stones to build a wall.

Some laborer found one faded and stone-cold,
And saving that its weight suggested gold
And tugged it from his first too certain hold,

He noticed nothing in it to remark.
He was not used to handling stars thrown dark
And lifeless from an interrupted arc.

He did not recognize in that smooth coal
The one thing palpable besides the soul
To penetrate the air in which we roll.

He did not see how like a flying thing
It brooded ant eggs, and bad one large wing,
One not so large for flying in a ring,

And a long Bird of Paradise's tail
(Though these when not in use to fly and trail
It drew back in its body like a snail);

Nor know that be might move it from the spot—
The harm was done: from having been star-shot
The very nature of the soil was hot

And burning to yield flowers instead of grain,
Flowers fanned and not put out by all the rain
Poured on them by his prayers prayed in vain.

He moved it roughly with an iron bar,
He loaded an old stoneboat with the star
And not, as you might think, a flying car,

Such as even poets would admit perforce
More practical than Pegasus the horse
If it could put a star back in its course.

He dragged it through the plowed ground at a pace
But faintly reminiscent of the race
Of jostling rock in interstellar space.

It went for building stone, and I, as though
Commanded in a dream, forever go
To right the wrong that this should have been so.

Yet ask where else it could have gone as well,
I do not know—I cannot stop to tell:
He might have left it lying where it fell.

From following walls I never lift my eye,
Except at night to places in the sky
Where showers of charted meteors let fly.

Some may know what they seek in school and church,
And why they seek it there; for what I search
I must go measuring stone walls, perch on perch;

Sure that though not a star of death and birth,
So not to be compared, perhaps, in worth
To such resorts of life as Mars and Earth—

Though not, I say, a star of death and sin,
It yet has poles, and only needs a spin
To show its worldly nature and begin

To chafe and shuffle in my calloused palm
And run off in strange tangents with my arm,
As fish do with the line in first alarm.

Such as it is, it promises the prize
Of the one world complete in any size
That I am like to compass, fool or wise.

The Meteorite

Clive Staples Lewis

Among the hills a meteorite
Lies huge; and moss has overgrown,
And wind and rain with touches light
Made soft, the contours of the stone.

Thus easily can Earth digest
A cinder of sidereal fire,
And make her translunary guest
The native of an English shire.

Nor is it strange these wanderers
Find in her lap their fitting place,
For every particle that's hers
Came at the first from outer space.

All that is Earth has once been sky;
Down from the sun of old she came,
Or from some star that travelled by
Too close to his entangling flame.

Hence, if belated drops yet fall
From heaven, on these her plastic power
Still works as once it worked on all
The glad rush of the golden shower.




Dr. Guy Consolmagno, S.J.; Vatican Observatory

Vesta and the Chaotic Formation of Planets

Time: 2:30PM

The Dawn mission was sent to Vesta to inspect, close up, an intact protoplanet from the origin of the solar system. After all, its spectra matches that of basaltic meteorites, which must have come from an early, chemically evolved protoplanet. Except... Vesta's overall density is too low, and its core and crust too big, to fit anything like what we expect an intact protoplanet to look like. Was Vesta ripped apart and re-assembled? Is Vesta giving us new clues to planet formation and evolution in a violent early solar system?




Dr. Rhiannon Mayne; TCU

Charmed, I'm sure: Meteorites as Objects of Cultural Importance

Time: 2:30PM

Meteorites are objects usually prized primarily for their scientific value; for example, they help answer questions about the formation of our Solar System. However, there is also a long history of meteorites also being objects of significant cultural importance. Qarabawi’s Camel Charm is a sample acquired by the National Meteorite Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 1974. The Charm consists of a flattened disk about 6.5 cm in diameter and four links, all of which are made from meteoritic material. In this presentation, I will discuss the combined scientific and ethnographic study of the Camel Charm, and the Wadi El Gamal meteorite from which it was made.




Dr. Tasha Dunn; Colby College

It's getting hot in here: Metamorphism of primitive solar system materials

Time: 2:30PM

Chondritic meteorites represent the most primitive material in the solar system. These chondrites originate from asteroids that did not reach temperatures high enough to melt. Although they escaped melting, some of these primitive asteroids reached temperatures high enough to induce metamorphism - recrystallization of a rock in a solid state. Unlike Earth, where metamorphism is accompanied by pressure and heat, metamorphism on asteroids is driven only by temperature. This metamorphism results in textural and geochemical changes that provide insight into the thermal and physical evolution of small bodies during the solar system's earliest formation.




Dr. Sara Russell; NHM London

Clocks in Rocks - How to date a solar system

Time: 2:30PM

Our solar system was born over four and a half billion years ago, from a cloud of dust and gas called the protoplanetary disk. Examples of the first solids to be formed - calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions (CAIs) and chondrules -have survived in some meteorite samples to learn about these ancient times. In particular, we can determine how old these components are using lead isotopes, which places constraints on the formation time of our Sun and planets. Finer details can be provided by the isotope 26Al, which is a natural clock because it is radioactive and its abundance declines by half every 3/4 of a million years. By looking at how much of this isotope was present in each object when it formed we can therefore tell how old it is. However, this chronometer depends on knowing how much 26Al originally existed in the disk and how it was distributed. If we can work these details out, then we can use these data to determine the length of time it took to make CAIs and chondrules, and from this we can work out how long the dusty disk took to start to form planets.