Space enthusiasts can bid for 250 extraterrestrial rocks on Monday at the Drouot auction house in Paris.
The meteorites are from the collection of Pierre Delpuech, a French collector who travelled the world to acquire the most beautiful pieces. He passed away earlier this year.
An expert at the Drouot auction house Luc Labenne explains why this auction is unique.
"This is the very first time that you have the collection of one collector which will be sold at auction. So pieces that have never been on the market, that went directly from the finder, maybe through an intermediary to the collector. And now, in one go, we have them presented to the public and they have not been seen ever before."
The pieces include the Gibeon meteorite. It was discovered in the Kalahari Desert in Africa in 1836. Weighing 110 kilograms, the rock is expected to fetch up to 70,000 dollars.
Auctioneer at the auction house Christophe Lucien says buyers looking for cheaper finds are also in luck.
"The smallest object, the smallest meteorite of the sale is estimated at 55 or 65 US dollars, so those are the objects that one can even offer for Christmas."
Rocks, dust or debris travelling in outer space are called meteoroids. Meteorites are those that have reached the earth. A number of them can be traced back to the moon or Mars.
Most of the meteorites on sale in Paris are 4.5 billion years old. Currently, about 30,000 meteorites are known to exist. Only less than 1 percent are considered aesthetic.
Labenne explains the shapes of the rocks are determined by the forces of nature.
"That shape of the meteorites comes from the fact that they entered the atmosphere with the speed of several dozens of kilometres per second and that sculpted them, gave them the shape, it is a natural sculpture; it is a little bit the marriage between the space and the Earth."
The expert says the space rocks attract a good number of collectors on this planet.
"Meteorite collectors, those who regularly buy some pieces, who are following a precise theme, a shape, or their importance for science or their aesthetics, they are couple of thousand in the world, but only couple of hundred of them are very active."
Two main markets exist currently for meteorites – one for those with aesthetic appeals, and another for rocks with other notable attributes, such as having come from the planet Mars.