Eugene Cernan graduated from Proviso Township High School in 1952 and was an astronaut aboard Apollo 17, the last NASA mission to the Moon in 1972.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission — the last time humans walked on the Moon. Triton College’s Cernan Earth and Space Center, named after the mission’s commander, Proviso Township High School graduate Eugene Cernan, is marking the occasion with an exhibition that runs through April 10, 2023. 

Cernan grew up in nearby Maywood and Bellwood, and he graduated from what was then Proviso Township High School in 1952. He attended Purdue University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Cernan died in 2017, in Houston, Texas. 

A moon rock collected by the crew is on display at the Triton College exhibit.

The Cernan Center exhibit features an interactive activity presented on a large, flat-touch-screen-table, Triton officials said. 

“The table will run a program called ‘Colonize Mars’ in which multiple users can work to develop a colony on Mars through several stages of objectives,” officials announced last month. “Players can work individually or together to build their colony as quickly as possible.” 

The exhibit will also show attendees what Apollo astronauts ate and what equipment they relied on during missions. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ran Project Apollo from 1961 to 1972. 

During the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972, Cernan left his footprints on the moon’s surface — the last astronaut to do so. 

The exhibit has photos from that mission, along with a lunar sample, or moon rock, that the Apollo 17 crew collected. The moon rock is exhibited within a Lucite pyramid and sits on a lit pedestal, which NASA loaned to Triton. Nearby, various exhibits examine lunar geology, the moon’s origin and the Apollo mission’s effect on popular culture. 

Cernan left his footprints on the lunar surface

Along with the exhibits, the Cernan Center’s Planetarium will feature several shows, including “Dawn of the Space Age,” “Forward! To The Moon,” “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure – Early Explorers” and a holiday-themed laser show, “A Trans-Siberian Christmas.” 

Admission to the Cernan Center exhibits is free. The Planetarium admission is $4 for youth ages 2 to 17 and seniors 55 and over. Tickets for adults are $8.  

The Triton College Cernan Earth and Space Center is open Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The Cernan Center is closed on Sundays.