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Lunar dust
Photograph: Courtesy of Bonhams

See actual moon dust at this NYC auction house this week

The sample was collected by Neil Armstrong on his first mission to the moon.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Space aficionados will love this: actual moon dust collected by American astronaut Neil Armstrong during his first trip to the moon in 1969 will be on display at Bonhams, an auction house on Madison Avenue, from April 9-12.

The sample will be exhibited alongside other relics of space exploration, including photos taken during the Apollo 11 mission, a fragment from Sputnik I (the first artificial Earth satellite) and an actual map of the moon signed by 15 Apollo astronauts, plus former President of the United States Richard Nixon and German-American aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun.

The happening isn't only functioning as an exhibit, though: the moon dust is actually on sale. (It is an auction house, after all!)

The sale will go live on Wednesday, April 13 at 1pm and the sample, which is still in its case from NASA, is estimated at $800,000 and $1.2 million. Chump change, indeed.

"Everyone can envision the footage of Armstrong taking those first steps on the moon," said Adam Stackhouse, Bonhams specialist of fine books and manuscripts, in an official press release about the happening. "It was a pivotal moment in history when people all over the world rejoiced at one of the greatest achievements of humankind. Humans had landed on the moon—and brought a small piece back to Earth with them."

If you don't already know about the history of the lunar dust sample, we're sure this recap will delight you. After Armstrong brought the bag back to Earth, NASA loaned it to a space museum and it was then auctioned off. One Nancy Lee Carlson, a resident of Illinois, was able to buy it in 2015 for $995. She sent it to NASA asking for help identifying its origin and, once the space program realized what was actually in the bag, it reportedly refused to return it to its owner. Carlson then sued NASA, won and is now selling the treasure via Bonhams. What a crazy story, right? 

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