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Walking on the Moon

It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years.  Fifty years since a man first placed his foot on the surface of a world that was not the Earth.

Buzz Aldrin looks at the American flag he just helped to plant on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Courtesy NASA.

On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took some amazing small steps and made some incredibly huge leaps.  Most folks remember Neil’s name at least.  Not everyone remembers Buzz, and almost no one can name the man who stayed aboard the orbiting spacecraft – Michael Collins.

The Apollo 11 Crew. Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. Courtesy NASA.

After the Apollo 11 mission, 5 other teams of two men each walked on the lunar surface.  Each mission grew progressively longer, with astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt spending 3 full days on the lunar surface (compare than to Neil and Buzz, who got to spend only 21 hours on the Moon).  The science learned from these missions is amazing…and continues to this day.  Scientists are still studying the 842 pounds of lunar surface material the Apollo mission brought home.

Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon. If you look carefully, you can see Neil Armstrong, who is taking the picture, reflected in Buzz’s visor. Apollo 11. Courtesy NASA.

As we prepare to head back to the Moon, it’s fitting to take a little time to celebrate the thousands of men and women who got us there the first time.  Here are some great ways you can celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 with the Virginia Living Museum:

  • Take an interest in the sky above you!  Join us for an evening of Stargazing and our popular Laser Light Night on July 13.  We’ll be in the Abbitt Observatory with our telescopes around 8pm to begin setting up for a look at the evening skies (weather permitting).  The cafe will open at 7pm for dinner, drinks and snacks, and you can always check out the sky in the planetarium with Virginia Skies at 7:30pm if the real one won’t cooperate ($6 per person).
  • Join us for a special Naturally Speaking event on July 18th!  NASA’s Pat Troutman will be talking with us about getting to the Moon and taking it further on to Mars.  Light refreshments will be served.  This special adult-level talk is free, but please RSVP on our website.
  • Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 with us on July 20th!  We will be featuring a day full of activities, events, crafts, and more all themed around the lunar landing and spaceflight in general.  See a water rocket launch (weather permitting), make a “lunar” footprint of your own, take in a special planetarium program (additional fee), debunk the Moon Landing Hoax and so much more.  Most activities included with regular museum admission.

See you then!


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