Looking Up: A Small Step And A Giant Leap...

Jul 1, 2019

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong working at an equipment storage area on the lunar module. This is one of the few photos that show Armstrong during the moonwalk.
Credit NASA / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal and Bruce begin a month long salute to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.

This July 20th will mark fifty years since Neil Armstrong took his famous first step on to the surface of the Moon. In honor of that remarkable achievement, all this month Bruce and I are going to focus on topics related to the Moon and our visits there.

The Moon is one of my favorite objects to observe, and I urge you to grab a free astronomy app with a map of the Moon and start exploring.

Starting with Armstrong, a total of 12 men walked on the Moon’s surface. Three men went to the Moon twice, and two of those got to land and explore the surface. Sadly, as you might expect with a 50-year-old event, we’ve lost a number of those, and only 4 Moonwalkers are alive today. There are also four surviving astronauts that stayed in the command module orbiting the Moon.

When NASA launched Apollo 15 to the Moon, they created a very special crew for the mission, at least to my biased eye, in that all three attended my alma mater, the University of Michigan. And because of that fun fact, the University organized a trip to Florida to watch the launch. My wonderful dad took my brother and me on the UM chartered jet to watch the launch, and I say to this day, watching a Saturn V launch to the Moon is one of the most amazing and meaningful experiences of my life. Only seeing a total eclipse of the Sun comes close to it. 

Smoke and flames signal the opening of a historic journey as the Saturn V clears the launch pad.
Credit NASA / nasa.gov

If you’d like to take a closer look at the moon, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties.