Dale Lowdermilk wants to rock your world before a killer asteroid does.

A local meteorite collector, Lowdermilk will give a presentation tonight at 7 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, touching on topics ranging from billion-year-old meteorites to fossilized dinosaur dung. The lecture, a free two-hour exploration of meteorite history and trivia titled “Meteorites, Asteroids, and Why Science Matters,” will also visit controversial issues like the origin of life on earth and the possibility of a large asteroid colliding with the planet in a catastrophic event.

One highlight of the lecture, Lowdermilk said, is the display of a small meteorite more than 5 billion years old.

“This little piece of rock is the oldest piece of matter that you will ever see,” Lowdermilk said. “Scientists have placed it at even older than the sun.”

Lowdermilk, a member of the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit — a local astronomy club — and a self-described amateur meteorite collector, said his interests are somewhat rare among astronomers in that most of his time is spent looking earthward.

“I think I’m one of the few members of the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit that doesn’t own a telescope,” Lowdermilk said. “Some of the other members laugh at me for it, but it’s more fun for me to hold the rock than to look at it through the telescope.”

Krissie Cook, astronomy programs coordinator for the natural history museum, said she is looking forward to having Lowdermilk speak at the museum because of his enthusiasm and his knowledge of the subject he is presenting.

“It’s going to be a really great lecture,” Cook said. “We’ve had a lot of good speakers in the past, and people always walk away really excited about the material.”

In addition to Lowdermilk’s lecture, Cook said the museum is offering booths with activities and examples of different types of meteorites, including some pieces that originated on the moon. Museum memberships will be available for purchase at the event, but she said fundraising is not the primary goal of lectures like this one.

“This isn’t really for the museum’s benefit,” Cook said. “We’re doing this as a chance for the community to learn something new, and hopefully get some people interested in astronomy.”

Lowdermilk said he found his long-standing fascination with several scientific disciplines finally intersected at the study of meteorites, which are defined as stony or metallic objects that have fallen to the earth’s surface from outer space.

“I’ve always had an interest in astronomy and geology from years ago, and those two interests kind of came together in meteorites,” Lowdermilk said.

The origins of many meteorites are still uncertain, and may hold the key to determining the origin of life on Earth, Lowdermilk said.

“They’ve traveled such a great distance, but where did they come from?” Lowdermilk said. “How did they make it to earth? There are so many theories; the whole process of how these things got here is a story unto itself.”

For the terrestrial portion of the lecture, Lowdermilk said he will discuss things like 3.2 billion-year-old bacteria, the descendants of which still live in Australia, and fossilized dinosaur excrement called coprolite that is often mistaken for meteorites.

“If we’re going to look at the possibility of life elsewhere, we need to understand how did life survive on Earth,” he said.

One of the more sobering points in Lowdermilk’s talk concerns the chance — which he said is more like a certainty — that a large asteroid will collide with the Earth.

“Sometime between 10 minutes from now and the next 10,000 years, the Earth is going to be hit by one of these large meteoroids — it is going to happen,” Lowdermilk said. “The question is how big will it be, and where it will hit. I don’t want to freak people out, but that’s kind of the bottom line.”