The Solar System display provides the visitor with an overview of the planets, moons, asteroids, etc., which make up the Solar System. It also gives the viewer an idea of the relative sizes of the different planets, as well as their size in relation to the Sun.
Meteorites are rocks that fell from space; most are fragments of asteroids (the rocky ‘rubble’ of the Solar System, most of which orbits the Sun in the Asteroid Belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter).
In the meteorite display the Museum houses, among others, the Malvern Meteorite, which could well be a tiny fragment of the Moon. It has features that resemble certain Moon rocks (lunar breccias). It belongs to a group of stony meteorites known as basaltic achondrites and to the rare subgroup known as Howardites. It fell on the farm Malvern, near Dewetsdorp in the Free State, in 1933. Where it has been cut to obtain slices for analysis, it reveals the beauty of its inner structure.
The Zeekoegat Meteorite is a chunk of very dense iron and nickel, which fell on the farm Zeekoegat, near Winburg in the Free State, in 1881. It was once probably part of the core of a large asteroid which broke up in a collision with another asteroid. Visitors are invited to touch this meteorite – and to try to lift it. It weighs 48,89 kg.
Also to be seen is a small piece of the Hoba West Meteorite. This Meteorite is in Namibia, at the site where it fell at Hoba West near Grootfontein. Weighing 60 tonnes, it is the largest known meteorite in the world and the largest known naturally occurring piece of iron in the world (meteorites of this size and larger usually explode on impact).