A 4-pound moon rock's coming to auction—but it'll cost you

Unless you're one of the 12 people who've actually walked there, getting close to the moon is a little difficult. You can visit a museum to see moon rocks, or you can buy one if you think you've got the cash. But in the case of this four-pound chunk of the moon now at auction, you'd better have a hefty bank account.

Dar Al Gani 1058 is the largest chunk of the moon to ever head to auction, which should also make it one of the most expensive. The opening bid for the item at Heritage Auctions is set at $170,000, and experts estimates the eventual price of the rock will be around $340,000.

That's a lot of dough, but it's actually a good deal less than some much smaller pieces of the moon have fetched, like three tiny flecks of moon collected by a Russian probe in 1970 that were auctioned for nearly $450,000 a few years back. That's because Dar Al Gani 1058 wasn't recovered by an astronaut, or by a manmade probe. This moon rock fell to Earth as part of a meteorite. It was discovered in 1998 and has been in the collection of an anonymous seller since then. Experts believe it was once part of the moon's far side before dislodging and hurtling toward the Earth, and now it can be yours ... if you've got a ton of cash.

So this thing's already massive price tag is actually cheaper than a rock collected directly from the moon by a robot, because moon rocks that came in direct contact with space exploration efforts have added historical value. Moon rocks collected by NASA astronauts have never been sold to the public, but if they were, how much could they fetch?

"And while the moon rocks recovered by the Apollo astronauts are considered National Treasures and have never been awarded to individuals, hypothetical appraisals have suggested even a 1-gram sample could be worth millions," said Robert Pearlman, editor of space history site collectSPACE.com.

Wow, millions for a gram of the moon that, say, Neil Armstrong touched. Maybe we just found a new funding source for NASA.

The auction for Dar Al Gani 1058 will continue through October 14. Experts predict the buyer will likely be a museum, but if you start running hitting up your friends for extra cash now you might be able to compete. To check out the progress of the sale, head over to Heritage Auctions.

(Via Huffington Post)

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