Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 15:20 UK

Space collection put up for sale

Robert Elliott
Robert Elliott has been collecting meteorites since he was a young boy

The UK's largest private collection of space artefacts, which includes meteorites and rocks from the Moon and Mars, is being put up for auction.

More than 170 items, collected by self-proclaimed meteorite chaser Robert Elliott, are expected to fetch more than £500,000.

Among the most notable pieces is the remaining part of the Hambleton meteorite, found in Yorkshire in 2005.

The Lyon and Turnbull auction will take place in Edinburgh on 18 August.

Mr Elliott found the 5.8kg remnant of the Hambleton meteorite beside a forest track in North Yorkshire. It is expected to fetch between £60,000 and £90,000.

If I hear of a sighting I leap on a plane and head to the area and try to find a piece of space rock
Robert Elliott
Space artefacts collector

The collection also features a helium tank from the Russian Salyut 7 spacecraft which went out of control and fell to earth as a fireball.

Rocks from two different parts of the Moon, a piece of the Vesta asteroid and a piece of Mars rock are also going under the hammer.

Mr Elliott, who has been collecting space artefacts since he was a young boy, said the sale did not spell an end to his collecting days.

He added: "I have collected meteorites from around the world since I was a child.

"If I hear of a sighting I leap on a plane and head to the area and try to find a piece of space rock.

"They are incredibly beautiful when you slice them open and I find it incredible that they were once hurtling through space."

'Serious collectors'

Also for sale is one of the oldest meteorites known on earth, the Lake Murray meteorite, which was found in rock over 110 million years old in Oklahoma.

The Glenrothes meteorite, which was the first to be found on UK soil by Mr Elliott in the summer of 1998, is also up for sale along with part of the famous Park Forest meteorite which fell in Chicago, Illinois, peppering the area with space rocks, hitting and damaging several homes.

Special interest items include part of a witnessed fall in Iowa of the Estherville Mesosiderite and the Barwell Meteorite, also known as the "Christmas Meteorite", which fell to earth on Christmas Eve 1965, in Barwell, Leicestershire.

Auctioneer Gavin Strang said: "Lyon & Turnbull are boldly going where no other auction house has gone before in holding the first auction of meteorites and space memorabilia in the UK.

"We expect a great deal of interest from around the world with serious collectors heading to Edinburgh for the sale."

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