From Hochschulstrasse 6 in Bern, it is 384’000 kilometers to the moon.
"So what," you might respond. But please stay with me, because this address is connected to the Apollo program in a very particular way.
The Solar Wind Composition Experiment
Back in the late 1960’s, the University of Bern was deeply involved in the first manned mission to the moon. It was Prof. Dr. Johannes Geiss and Peter Eberhardt of the Physics Department who developed the Solar Wind Composition Experiment (SWC), a sort of sail on top of a tripod to measure the solar winds.
The SWC made it from Bern all the way to the moon as part of the Apollo 11 Mission (and on further missions, too.) On July 16, 1969, at 3 AM local Swiss time, astronaut Buzz Aldrin stepped off the vessel with the experiment in hand. And even before the iconic placing of the US flag, he would stick the SWC into the lunar surface where it would remain for 77 minutes. The Solar Wind Composition experiment was the only non-American scientific experiment to make it to the moon at the time.
As one newspaper aptly described it: “A small piece of aluminum foil, a big leap for Bern.” Switzerland will be honoring the 50th anniversary of the first manned mission to the moon these days. Several events and exhibits related to the Apollo 11 Mission are taking place, so do not miss this opportunity to learn something.
Experience the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission in Switzerland
Kunsthaus Zürich (through June 30)
In celebration of the Apollo 11 anniversary, Kunsthaus Zurich has a special exhibit entitled Fly me to the Moon. On display are some 200 pieces related to the moon and the universe, mostly from post-WWII. Some topics are topography, moonlight and moon shadow or weightlessness.