Big cities and small towns alike are gathering this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Celebrations last all week, and most culminate on Saturday on the anniversary of the first crewed landing on the Moon.
Places with direct ties to the mission are pulling out all the stops. Kennedy Space Center in Florida is hosting events that celebrate its role in every step of the mission, from launch to splashdown. Space Center Houston in Texas restored the Apollo 11 mission control center to its 1969 state. In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is turning the Washington Monument into Apollo 11’s Saturn V rocket.
If you live in the United States, chances are high that there’s an anniversary event somewhere near you this week or beyond. We can’t list them all, but here are six that you don’t want to miss.
Across the Country: A new documentary brings viewers into the drama of the Apollo 11 mission as it unfolded in 1969. The documentary, Apollo 11, was crafted entirely from archival video and audio, including a cache of recently discovered 65-millimeter film from the mission’s launch and recovery, as well as hours of uncataloged audio from the mission control center.
The film gives personal glimpses into mission figures like Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins. The newly restored audio tracks recorded the voices of 60 key personnel in Houston’s control center and shine new light on minute-by-minute mission activities. Despite knowing how it ends, audiences widely agree that Apollo 11 beautifully re-creates the tension and excitement felt by the mission’s staff and its eager spectators.
The documentary is currently playing on IMAX screens around the United States and is also available for purchase in a variety of formats.
Wapakoneta, Ohio: Neil Armstrong’s birthplace is hosting a Summer Moon Festival from 19 to 21 July at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. The festival follows a week of Apollo-related events and will include Moon runs, concerts, science presentations, lunar rover demonstrations, and visits from NASA astronauts.
Arecibo, Puerto Rico: The largest radio telescope in the United States invites the public to look up at and learn about the Moon on Saturday. In addition to observing the night sky through (visible light) telescopes, the evening event will also include educational talks, astronomy activities, and a film screening.
Chicago, Ill.: Adler Planetarium is inviting people to a discussion on 19 July about Moon exploration. The forum, “Why Go to the Moon? A Conversation on the Past and Future of Lunar Exploration,” will include a space historian and a historian of colonialism and invites the public to share questions and thoughts about why we should (or shouldn’t) go back to the Moon.
New York, N.Y.: Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography brings science and art together in a showcase of visual depictions of the Moon. The exhibit, at The Met Fifth Avenue through 22 September, includes photographs, drawings, paintings, and films that highlight humanity’s persistent fascination with our celestial neighbor.
Fort Worth, Texas: The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History’s Launchpad: Apollo 11 Promises Kept tells the story of human spaceflight past, present, and future. The gallery, open through the end of the year, features Apollo artifacts, science art, and a look at the face of modern spaceflight. One special feature is a virtual reality experience that lets visitors see what the astronauts saw as they walked on the Moon.
—Kimberly M. S. Cartier (@AstroKimCartier), Staff Writer