Nininger Moments Introduction by Al Mitterling

Through out the history of time there are rare individuals who step forward to address something that no one else has wanted to, or has had time and money to do. A unique individual who sees the importance of something that is being overlooked and manages to put the spotlight on that much needed area and provides the actions that are necessary. Harvey Nininger was such a man, seeing the importance of having a program of not only finding meteorites but knowing the important clues they would yield on the study of not only our own solar system but also other systems. At a time when the study of meteorites was an extreme rarity among American education and research institutions, Harvey sought answers to the many unknown wonders they held such as fall dynamics and how common they were.

Photo Credit: Geoffrey Notkin – Blaine Reed on left and Al Mitterling on right

Attempts were made to generate funding for such a program by the institutions of that day but a lack of belief that such a program would ever yield any results, that finding new specimens would be so rare to make such a program cost prohibited were a few of the walls Harvey Nininger often ran into. Despite these barriers, Nininger devised a way of generating his own program of hunting for new specimens, paying for that program and making detailed notes. With the help of his wife Addie and the support of his family, the Nininger’s generated this program that “wouldn’t work” on their own.

Nininger brought to light over 222 previously unknown falls, that added up to over 2,000 individual meteorites during this time frame of hunting. Many other new falls were found as an indirect result of his program to other institutions, collectors and scientists. A Dr. Flecter Watson of Harvard once wrote in his book “Between The Planets” Published in 1941 that Nininger was accounting for half of all the discoveries in the world at that time!

The Nininger Moments were generated to pay tribute to the great man of meteorites, who made extreme sacrifices, who inspired many people to go out, hunt and find them, who continues to inspire people on meteorites even in this modern era of hunting and collecting. A number of the specimens that grace our collections these days are from the Nininger era. Nininger set the standard for that day and time and perhaps even this day and age. Harvey Nininger is the father of American Meteoritics. The Nininger Moments are some of the great moments and adventures that try to shed light on the long road he traveled.

–AL Mitterling

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