The moon is within reach

Visitors to the Schenectady Museum on Thursday and Friday, July 12 and 13, can touch a moon rock.

Visitors to the Schenectady Museum on Thursday and Friday, July 12 and 13, can touch a moon rock.

Some 40 years ago, the Schenectady Museum hosted a moon rock the public could come out and see.

Another moon rock will be on display at the museum on Thursday and Friday, July 12 and 13, but this time the museum’s doing one better. Visitors can actually touch this one.

“It’s one of only eight touchable moon rocks in the world,” said Chris Hunter, the museum’s curator of collections and exhibitions. “That’s kind of a new thing for this region.”

The moon rock, which was brought back to Earth aboard Apollo 17, is part of NASA’s Driven to Explore mobile exhibit. Housed in a 30-foot trailer, the exhibit will be parked at museum from noon to 9 p.m. on Thursday and noon to 5 p.m. on Friday. A number of space-related activities and displays will also be offered, and visitors will even have a rare chance to grab a bite to eat at the museum, as several vendors will sell food.

NASA has been touring the exhibit for about two years and contacted the museum about bringing it to Schenectady, Hunter said. The two institutions have a long history, with the Schenectady Museum often displaying NASA photographs.

“We are very excited to have been chosen by NASA as a site for this exhibit,” said Susan Whitaker, the museum’s communication and marketing specialist.

With good reason. The touchable moon rock, believed to be 4 billion years old, was picked up on the last manned mission to the moon in 1972. Visitors will also have a chance to see a prototype of the moon boot used by NASA during the historic Apollo 11 mission, which landed man on the moon for the first time in July of 1969. Momentive, then known as GE Silicones, made the moon boots’ rubber soles, and the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology in Troy has one of the boots, which it is loaning to the Schenectady Museum.

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