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Natural history is not at its end -- bridging past and presence of meteorite impacts at the museum using online observation tools
  • Lina Seybold,
  • Stefan Hölzl
Lina Seybold
Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Stefan Hölzl
Bavarian Natural History Collections (SNSB)
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The Noerdlinger Ries is regarded as one of the best studied terrestrial impact craters. Because of its accessibility and its excellent preservation this area continues to be a research target for numerous international students, geoscientists and impact researchers. Here astronauts from the Apollo 14 and 17 missions studied the identification and sampling of impact rocks to prepare for their trip to the Moon. Today it is a regular training area for ESA astronauts and project planners. As an ‘In-crater museum’, the Ries Crater Museum offers insights into the spectacular event 15 million years ago. It illuminates the significance and the larger context of the Ries event to a wider audience: our Solar System, comets, asteroids, meteorites, and the special role of impacts in the evolution of our Solar System and Earth. Permanent didactic challenges in this context are: Most of the relevant processes cannot be observed directly. The time scale considered is very large and very different from that of a human being. Large impact-events took place long ago (Millions and billions of years ago) and were/are very rare events by human standards. Also, only remains of large and relatively new impacts are preserved and visible to some extent. All this often leads to the conclusion that impact processes are part of the past without actual relevance except at the cinema. In reality objects from space hit Earth every day, every hour, every minute, every second. But since they are usually very small, their fall is rarely spectacular and usually not noticed. We are currently working on the renewal of the meteorite area in our museum. In this context we plan to draw visitors’ attention to recent fall events and to show their special importance for science and society. To demonstrate the ongoing bombardment of the earth we present online or ‘near online’ observations to make visible the usually invisible to the ‘normal’ eye. We try to overcome the restrictions of timescale and take a sharp look into the present by reducing time slots and using a ‘magnifying glass’. We present concepts and approaches. Suggestions and comments are welcome!