John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 1979 October 1
    The world's largest meteorite in captivity, the 34-ton Ahnighito, 
and its companion, the 3-ton Woman, were moved from the Hayden 
Planetarium to new exhibit quarters in the American Museum of Natural 
History on 6-13 September 1979. The two irons will form the 
centerpiece display in the Museum's new Arthur Ross Hall of 
    The Planetarium was shut down on September 3rd for Gerosa Crane 
Service Co, a rigging firm from the Bronx, to prepare the meteorites 
for the move. A lattice gantry was erected over Ahnighito, sitting on 
its steel skid atop the fabled Toledo scale, and a hatchway was cut 
into the building's west wall. An H-beam track and wooden rollers were 
laid down from the scale, thru the hatchway, to the parking lot just 
    On Thursday 6 September all was ready for the first stage of the 
move. Under the lingering clouds of hurricane David, Gerosa's crane 
and flatbed truck were in position by the track. Inside, the gantry 
lifted Ahnighito, along with its skid, off the scale and set it down 
onto the rollers. Then the crane's frontend winch was attached to the 
skid. At 10:30 AM the winch was started up, the cables tensed, and 
Ahnighito slowly glided down the track out into the daylight. 
Meanwhile, the workmen were readying the main crane. Steel cables were 
run under the pallet and brought together at the top for hooking onto 
the crane. Heavy pads protected the meteorite from scuffing. 
    Gently the crane hoisted Ahnighito from the rollers, swung it over 
the flatbed, and lowered it onto its rear deck. 
    The entire process took no more than an hour and it was viewed by 
hardly twenty people from the press, the Museum, and the Planetarium. 
Another twenty or so spectators were curious passersby. 
    The Woman, being only three tons, was easily picked off its stand 
in front of the souvenir counter and placed onto a heavy wooden 
pallet. Secured with rope and chain, The Woman was wheeled thru the 
corridor to the hatchway, where it, too, was lifted by the crane onto 
the trailer. The day's activities were concluded by bringing the 
trailer around to the front of the Planetarium and parking it there. 
    At about 9 AM on Friday 7 September Ahnighito was unfastened from 
its pallet and carefully wrapped in padded chains. In the Ross Hall 
Ahnighito will repose on a "hand" whose six "fingers" must exactly fit 
the meteorite's contours. A jig of wood and pipe was fitted out by the 
Museum for measuring the finger lengths and this was at ready by the 
trailer. The crane was brought up and it lifted Ahnighito from the 
skid and held it suspended over the jig. It was securely tethered to 
the crane's bumper while Museum technicians crawled underneath to take 
their measurements. 
    This done by about 11:30 AM, Ahnighito was replaced on its pallet 
and was chained down. A 24-hour guard (in shifts) was stationed at the 
trailer for the ensuing week of open public viewing. Thru all this The 
Woman rested quietly under a tarp at the front end of the trailer. 
    During the next six days workmen were busy at the Museum's 
Southwest Tower getting things ready to receive the irons. Directly 
beneath the new Hall the basement floor was reinforced with a thick 
concrete pad from which sprang six heavy columns -- the six "fingers" 
of the new stand. These passed thru the ceiling and terminated at about 
knee height off the ground in the Hall. An old sealed-up door in the 
Tower's outer wall was broken thru and the H-beam and roller track 
from the Planetarium was set up, leading from the "hand" to the street 
    Other crews began dismantling the Toledo scale and repairing the 
wall at the Planetarium. At press time, no plans for using the now-
vacant space have been announced. 
    Thursday 13 September saw Gerosa truck the meteorites to the 
Southwest Tower via 81st Street and Columbus Avenue. By 10 AM 
everything was ready for the transfer into the Museum. The trailer was 
backed up to the Tower and the crane lifted Ahnighito onto the 
rollers. A drum winch set up inside and tied into the building's 
columns gently hauled Ahnighito down the track up to the exhibit 
stand. The Woman, too, was taken off the trailer by the crane, but it 
was brought to the exhibit area by forklift. 
    On the 17th the gantry from the Planetarium was set up over the 
"hand" and used to hoist Ahnighito from the rollers. While it was 
positioned over the stand a special quick-setting cement was applied 
to each fingertip. Then quickly, but carefully, Ahnighito was lowered 
and settled into place. The Woman was similarly lifted off by its own, 
much smaller gantry, and placed onto a simple two-pedestal mount next 
to Ahnighito. 
    The Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites will be unveiled in fall of 
1980. In the meantime, while construction moves apace, Ahnighito and 
The Woman will rest on their new stands under protective tarps.