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Mindat/SMLS Mineral Weekend 2015

Last Updated: 23rd Nov 2015

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

Following on from a successful three-day event last year, we repeated exactly the same combination this year, a tour to the Natural History Museum on the Friday afternoon prior to the Sussex Mineral Show, which took place on in Hayward's Heath Saturday 14th November, and then our one-day mindat.org symposium on the 15th November, again in Hayward's Heath.

Friday 13th November - The Natural History Museum, London

After most of us met for lunch at a nearby pub, a group of 14 of us visited the Natural History Museum.

The Natural History Museum

Before we started the official tours we had a quick look into the newer mineral galleries in what was the old 'Geological Museum' building.

Galleries in the Earth's Treasury section

We then returned to the main mineral galleries.

Four participants in the systematic mineral displays.

One of the treasures of the collection, a box epimorph of siderite after fluorite from the Virtuous Lady mine in Devon.

The full group of attendees, with Mike Rumsey from the Natural History Museum on the far right.

Amir and Henry admiring some of the oversized minerals.

Divided into two groups people went behind the scenes to be given a tour by Mike Rumsey, head of collections.

Mike explaining some of the hidden treasures of the mineralogy department - Amir Akhavan photo

Original handwritten collection catalogue from Sir Arthur Russell - Amir Akhavan photo

Fluorite in the Russell Collection - Amir Akhavan photo

Making our way back out of the museum

Cosmonauts - The Science Museum

After the official program for the day finished a small number of us headed next door to the Science Museum to view their excellent exhibition on the Soviet space program. This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition brings together artifacts from the history of Soviet and Russian space research from the first experiments in the 1920/30s right through to the modern day.

Replicas of Sputnik 1 hang above the first gallery.

There are some priceless exhibits on display, including the original Vostok 6 capsule that carried the first woman into space, Valentina Tereshkova and the Voshkod 1 capsule which was the first multi-manned spacecraft carrying three people into orbit in 1964.

Voshkod 1 capsule

But the most impressive exhibit is this - the never-used Soviet lunar lander. Unlike the American lander it only carried a single cosmonaut but otherwise worked in a very similar way. Problems with the N1 rocket designed for the Soviet moon missions meant the whole program was cancelled in the early 1970s and kept highly classified until the end of the USSR.

The Soviet lunar lander.

I'd like to thank the Science Museum press office for allowing me to take photographs for this report.

Saturday 14th November - Sussex Mineral Show, Haywards Heath

The annual Haywards Heath mineral show held at Clair Hall is an event I have written about for mindat.org many times in the past.

Entering the show

The main hall, with Robert and John Lawson

The Lawsons were offering vesuvianite from Gweebarra River, Lettamackaward, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Richard Tayler had a new find of dolomite and calcite from the Lizard in Cornwall.

Dolomite and Calcite

Checking out the minerals.

One of the many tables.

Steve Warren won the competitive case trophy this year, here he is being awarded the trophy by the mayor of Hayward's Heath. The competition judge Phil James is on the right.

Left to right: Steve Warren, Mayor Sujan Wickremaratchi and Phil James

Mindat and SMLS Events, November 2015

Rocks Galore were one of the dealers in the smaller hall

They had this nice tanzanite in calcite - approx 10cm wide

Christian Montebont had this cronstedtite epimorph after ? from Herja, Romania

The other side of the piece

Nic from Taranis Minerals showing UV minerals to a possible customer.

Sunday 15th November - Mindat 2nd UK Symposium - Haywards Heath

On the following day we held our second UK symposium again in Haywards Heath. Although it is still a small event the quality of speakers was excellent.

Presentations were:

Jolyon Ralph - brief mindat.org update
Luis Martins - The hitchhikers guide to portuguese pegmatites
Ed Loye - "Winning" the REE - the criticality of mineralogy and host assemblage
Chris Mavris - An exceptional find of artinite from Parma, Italy
Roy Starkey - Arran in Focus (minerals of the Isle of Arran)
Amir Akhavan - Geochemistry in action - the volcanic island of Iōjima in Japan

Luis gives the first presentation, about Portuguese pegmatites.

Catering was provided by my mum and dad! (Thank you!)

Chris Mavris describing a new artinite find from Italy. No, the crystals were not this big.

Amir Akhavan starting his presentation on the volcanology and mineralogy of Iōjima, Japan

Along with the presentations a number of people brought minerals to trade and this was very popular.

Thank you for everyone who took part - it was a great event this year and we hope to do something similar next year too - more details once it is arranged!

Article has been viewed at least 6278 times.


Thank you Jolyon for organizing these events!

The behind the scenes tour of the museum was exceptional and the presentations at the symposium were first rate. The food at the symposium (catered by your parents) was good too...

I hope to be able to make it there again next year.

Henry Minot

Henry Minot
23rd Nov 2015 6:00pm
Jolyon, thank you very much for this report: the next best thing to being there.

Pictures of the British Museum bring back fond memories. The Russian lunar lander is something I never knew about.

John Attard
24th Nov 2015 3:44pm
Two of my passions are collecting minerals and items related to the space programs of the US and USSR. I agree that the Soviet lander is a cool piece of machinery. The Vostok capsule is also pretty amazing. Most folks are unaware that the first six cosmonauts bailed out of their capsules at around 23,000 feet. Valentina Tereshkova was the the #1 ranked female parachutist in the Soviet Union when she was chosen to become a cosmonaut. Amazingly gutsy individuals who flew those early US and USSR missions. It's still an amazingly dangerous endeavor to venture into the Cosmos, but compared to the early days of the space programs it seems a pretty ho-hum adventure today. We gotten very complacent as the continued successes make space flight look easy. It's anything but.

Paul Siegel
25th Nov 2015 3:07am
The show and Mindat events sound like they were great. I would love to see that Russian space exhibit, but alas it closes before we can get over there again.

Woody Thompson

Woody Thompson
25th Nov 2015 3:45pm
Thanks Jolyon,

This article brings back many fond memories for me also. In the late 1980’s I had a work assignment in England that lasted about three months. We lived in the Grand Hotel in Brighton and worked in Worthing. In spite of long hours on the job, we did get into London quite often. As I recall it was about a half hour ride on the express train from Brighton to Victoria Station.

The number one place in London that I wanted to visit was the British Museum of Natural History. When I passed through the entrance I spotted the “box siderite after fluorite”. It was hard to get past it. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it! It has since been one of my all-time favorite mineral specimens. And then, what a day among the collections of the British explorers. I hope that they don’t modernize the museum. We need some Natural History Museums that retain their historic ambiance.

Larry Maltby
4th Dec 2015 1:56pm
Nice report, Jolyon!

Someday I do hope to make it across the pond for one of these events; they look like a lot of fun! Besides, I need to get to the BMNH anyway..... Mike still owes me a pint at his favourite local pub! ;-)

Paul Brandes
10th Dec 2015 4:56pm

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