Hambleton meteorite auctioned in Edinburgh
Part of a meteorite that looks "a bit like a fruit cake" and is thought to be the UK's most expensive rock from outer space is to be sold at auction.
The Hambleton meteorite is a rare pallasite, a stony-iron meteorite, and the only one to be found in the UK.
A 2,900g slice of the Hambleton rock has been valued between £7,000 and £10,000 ahead of its sale at Lyon and Turnbull in Edinburgh later.
It was found by Rob Elliott in North Yorkshire in 2005.
Mr Elliott, from Milton of Balgonie in Fife, said meteorites are always cut up as part of analysis to prove they are not earth rocks.
He said: "When you cut up the Hambleton meteorite it resembles a fruit cake.
"The fruit in this case is semi-precious gemstones known as peridot crystals and it's the only one of that type to be found in the UK."
The slice of rock is one of 85 items up for sale by Mr Elliott, who is the owner of the UK's largest private collection of space memorabilia.
Two chunks of a meteorite which landed in Barwell, Leicestershire on Christmas Eve 1965 will also go under the hammer and are expected to fetch up to £4,500.
Other items include one of the only pieces of the Russian meteorite Chelyabinsk to have made it to the West after Mr Elliott arranged for pieces of it to be smuggled out of the country.
It was part of a small asteroid that entered the earth's atmosphere at an estimated speed of 41,000 miles per hour, 50 times the speed of sound, on 15 February 2013.
The meteor exploded, creating thousands of small pieces of meteorite, 15 miles above the city of Chelyabinsk.
A factory was knocked down, windows blown in and as many as 1,500 people injured by flying glass.
"The Russian government told the local residents that they would arrest anyone selling pieces of the meteorite overseas, so my contact had to disguise the airmail package and mix the meteorites with pieces of electronic equipment to hide them," said Mr Elliott.
Around the world
Although the package was opened by Russian customs and several meteorites confiscated, most of them made it to Mr Elliott.
The Chelyabinsk meteorite, weighing 27.1g, has been valued at £400 to £600.
Two previous sales of Mr Elliott's collection have taken place with Lyon and Turnbull in 2009 and 2011.
This latest auction, The Robert Elliott Meteorite Collection: Part 3, is expected to attract bids from around the world, including Russia, the Far East and the US, via telephone and online.
According to the auctioneers, if the Hambleton meteorite part reaches the price of £10,000 it will become the most expensive meteorite sold by Lyon and Turnbull, the only auctioneers known to specialise in meteorite sales.