Earthlings of all ages are flowing through Kilgore Public Library this week and the NASA Exhibit on loan from Johnson Space Center – with more space exploration ahead in July.

Long panel displays lead patrons on a tour of the solar system under the watchful eye of a replica moon landing space suit. The décor in the library’s common room has made way for dozens of photographs capturing astronauts’ experiences in orbit with other space memorabilia on-hand as well.

The pieces were specifically-chosen by KPL staffers, who called ‘dibs’ on the traveling displays well-ahead of next month’s 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. They’ll be here in Kilgore for two weeks.

“We requested it a year ago,” says Kaitlyn deGraffenried, the library’s technical services and programming coordinator. “We did our work ahead of time – we went and looked and picked out what we thought would be cool.”

She’s excited to share the handpicked educational material with locals, a taste of Johnson Space Center’s collection, visiting Kilgore with help from the exhibit’s local sponsor, Citizen’s Bank.

“It’s neat. It’s really neat they offer that kind of stuff.”

Lisa White brought her children to tour the exhibit Tuesday morning.

“Isn’t it interesting?” she said, awe-struck to learn Saturn’s moon, Titan, is larger than the planet Mercury, one of numerous fun facts visitors can pick up. “It’s amazing.”

A local home-schooler, White is linking the traveling exhibit into her children’s education.

“We’re going to get some books now on planets.”

The NASA Exhibit is open for guests through July 5 during the library’s normal operating hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) at 301 N. Henderson Blvd. The library will be closed July 4.

Later this week, KPL will give guests the chance to meet former NASA employees as they offer a peek behind the curtain of the space agency. Former Flight Controller Jonny Ferguson joins Manuel Rodriguez, a creator of the Apollo spacesuit, as well as space shuttle Instrumentation and Communications Officer Chuck Goodson. Rounding out the panel, Byron Lichtenberg is a former Payload Specialist and Chairman of a Standing Review Board of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The free, open-to-the-public event runs 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday (June 28) at the library then July 10 brings “To the Moon and Back” from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. as KPL celebrates 50 years since Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon.

Activities that Wednesday morning include a children’s storytime as well as displays and hands-on activities focused on the moon, these presented by the Center for Earth & Space Science Education. Space is limited – tickets will be passed out 30 minutes prior to the July 10 event.

On Friday, July 12, library visitors (who register in advance) can visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s inflatable planetarium during the Discovery Dome’s one-day stop in Kilgore. Tickets will be available in July – learn more at Facebook.com/KilgorePublicLibrary.

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