Meteorites are pieces of asteroids, the moon and Mars that travel to Earth after being ejected from these heavenly bodies. Exotic origins aside, meteorites can be beautiful, mimicking abstract sculpture for example, and many bring interesting stories when they collide with Earth. On Oct. 14, 2012, more than 125 meteorite specimens and related material go up for auction. Here's a look at few of them.
Above, the naturally formed holes on this iron Gibeon meteorite found in Namibia give it an animal-like appearance.
This meteorite was also part of the large Gibeon meteorite shower that rained rocks onto what is now Namibia thousands of years ago. But rather than evoking an animal face, this one can call to mind the gapping mouth of Edvard Munch’s painting "The Scream."
This meteorite, found in China's Gobi Desert, is a pallasite, a class of stony-iron meteorites that contain the mineral olivine. Gem quality olivine, as appears in this meteorite, is called peridot, the August birthstone.
In 1492, this stone fell from the sky outside the walled city of Ensisheim, located in the Alsatian region France. The stone's descent was seen as a sign from God; the extraterrestrial origin of meteorites would not be accepted for another 300 years. The Ensisheim meteorite was brought into the city and chained up in church to keep it Earth-bound.
The majority of meteorites break off from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter; rarer specimens come from the moon or Mars. This one, found in the Sahara Desert, is a lunar meteorite.
This Mars meteorite landed in July 2011 as part of a shower in the vicinity of Tissint, Morocco, the location that gives the meteorite its name. Collectors and institutions have since snapped up Tissint meteorites. This meteorite, which weighs 0.75 pounds (327 grams), locks into a larger specimen now owned by London's Natural History Museum.
In 1803, the L'Aigle meteorite landed in Normandy, France, convincing French scientists that rocks did indeed fall from the sky, and so ushering in widespread acceptance of the extraterrestrial origin of meteorites. This L'Aigle specimen bears an antique parchment label.
About 20 years ago, on Oct. 9, 1992, video cameras at Friday night football games in the northeastern United States caught the fiery descent of a meteorite that would end its fall by punching through the trunk of a car parked in Peekskill, N.Y. Above, a partial slice of the Peekskill meteorite.
The owner of the red Chevy Malibu struck by the meteorite was 18-year-old Michelle Knapp. Within a week of the meteorite mishap, Knapp sold the car for 25 times the $400 she paid for it when buying it from her grandmother. Above, meteorite dealer Ray Meyer standing beside the damaged car.
When a meteorite shower hit the Nigerian city of Mbale in 1992, at a time when the region was plagued by AIDS, residents believed the rocks were sent by God as a cure. Above, a partial slice of one of the Mbale meteorites.
This iron meteorite from China weighs 1,588 pounds (721 kilograms). This specimen will remain in Dallas, Texas, where Heritage Auctions, is based, until it is sold.
This partial slice comes from the Valera meteorite, which killed a cow when it landed in Venezuela in 1972. The cow was subsequently slaughtered and eaten, and the meteorite was used as a doorstop. This is the only meteorite known to have been responsible for a fatality.