By Teri Vance

Rhiannon Hughey, 16, has always had an affection for geology, but now her hobby is out of this world.

Hughey and her grandmother Patricia Hughey stopped by the Carson City Library on Thursday evening for a chance to see lunar rocks and soil during the Lunar Rocks and Meet a Meteorite presentation, sponsored by Greater Nevada Credit Union.

“I’m really into a bunch of different rocks and gemstones,” Rhiannon said. “I thought it would be interesting to see the lunar rocks, and I’m glad I got to see them.”

It brought back some fond memories for Patricia. “I remember that first moon landing very clearly,” she said. “I re-member looking up at the moon and saying, ’Wow, there are people up there.’”

The moon rocks were on display at the library as part of the NASA@ My Library, an initiative to engage public audiences nationwide in informal and lifelong learning.

Samples of moon rocks were on display along with lunar “soil,” or regolith, brought back from six Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972. They were stored in a vault at Greater Nevada Credit Union and transported to the library with a police escort.

“Part of what makes them so valuable is we can’t just go back and get more,” said Diane Baker, business manager for the Carson City Library. “We have no plans for returning to the moon in the foreseeable future.”

Anton Kolupaev, 13, understood the gravity of what he was looking at.“I’ve never seen a moon rock from outer space before,” he said. “It’s fun to see it for the first time. It’s pretty cool someone went all the way there and back. It took a lot of courage and strength to do that.”

The library also hosted an array of activities — including creating rocket ships from balloons — to help children and adults better understand the workings of the moon.

Sara Summers, 10, dropped a wood block into a tray of graham crackers to simulate impacts on the moon’s surface. “It’s super cool seeing that’s how tiny bits of asteroids are formed,” Sara said. “It breaks and also lands on different parts of the moon, which I’ve never known. Now I know why there are craters on the moon.”

Nearly 400 samples are distributed each year for research and teaching projects.