Wish Upon a Star

Christopher Cokinos has a matter-of-fact way of explaining those magical flashes of light racing across our night sky — “You can tell what the meteor’s made of by the color of its tail: red for silicon, yellow for iron, orange-yellow for sodium, bluish-green for magnesium, violet for calcium,” he says — but that doesn’t make them any less magical in his mind.

Furthermore, as Cokinos suggests in his new book, The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars, you might want to invest some wishful thinking on those flashes after all. “Meteorites are, in fact, implicated in the seeding of life’s ingredients on Earth,” he ex-plains. “And even the most indifferent know that these bits of former asteroids have rained devastation in the past and threaten to do so in the future. Meteorites are the Alpha and Omega of geology. These rocks — mere rocks — encompass the origins of life and the reality of death on our planet.”

Those rocks have also led to dreams of out-of-this-world riches (mostly unrealized) for extraterrestrial trophy hunters. Tonight at 7 p.m., Cokinos will lecture on the legacy of “the maverick scientists, mad dreamers and starry-eyed profiteers who chased meteorites and turned their study into a legitimate science.” He’ll be at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Ricketson Auditorium, 2001 Colorado Boulevard; tickets are $10. For more information, go to www.dmns.org.
Tue., Aug. 24, 7 p.m., 2010

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Colin Bane
Contact: Colin Bane