50 years ago first humans visited the moon.

  • Posted on: 19 July 2019
  • By: Johanna

In case you haven't noticed, it's the 50th anniversary of the Appolo 11 moon landing. In celebration of this momentous achievement, there are lots of information sources available this year, and I wanted to highlight some of them.

If you listen to podcasts, “13 minutes to the moon” from the BBC is great. It covers much more than just the last 13 minutes before touchdown of the lander on the moon's surface. With great musical score to go with the stories, it'll put you on the edge of your seat as they recall the most intense portions of the mission of going to the moon.

Want to experience the entire mission in real time? The website appoloinrealtime.org is better than being there! I was born after the first moon landing happened, and would have been waaaay too young to remember watching any moon landing coverage, and would have loved to experience it first hand. In so many ways, experiencing it 50 years later is so much better. The first time I went to the website and joined in at “current time” it was the first pass behind the moon for Appolo 11. You can listen to the recording of Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins excitedly taking in all the sights, and taking pictures, while simultaneously the website shows the pictures they took at those moments. There's no way that was available back when it happened.

There is a great moment between Michael Collins and Houston control when what he said wasn't caught, but Houston reminded him “Don't worry, you're being recorded for posterity” and he laughed in reply. It's so great that everything was recorded, because here we are 50 years later hearing everything that was said.

The website is so rich with content, it's almost overwhelming. Everything was recorded, including all the different mission control channels, so you can hear all the communications of the huge support team behind the scenes. There's commentary to explain some of the things going on that aren't obvious in the technobable, or only make sense after the fact. And if you miss something, not to worry, you can move back and forward in time to re-experience the moments over again as much as you want, focusing on different recordings as much as you want.

As a side note, one thing that I notice is there is lots of discussion among the astronauts about cameras both for photography and film. Back in 1995 I had the great opportunity to meet Dick Underwood, the photo coach to all the astronauts at NASA. He was brought in to speak at the opening of a new engineering building at UVic. He made a few presentations, obviously accompanied with awesome photos. Members of the engineering student society executive had dinner with him, and he had so many incredible stories to tell. (Including why there are no pictures of Neil Armstrong on the moon, but that's best left for another time.) I don't know if I would have noticed just how much camera talk the astronauts were having if I hadn't had a chance to have dinner with Dick Underwood.

Googledoodles made a short video giving an overview of the whole expedition with voice over by Michael Collins. Every new thing I encounter about the landing I learn something new, including in this short overview. 

The final mention I'm going to make is the Apollo 11 IMAX movie. Sadly it was only released widely on IMAX screens for 1 week back in March, and by the time we went looking for tickets, it wasn't being played in theatres anymore. It's available for streaming and on DVD, but everything I've heard about it recommend seeing it in an IMAX theatre. Various screens at science and space centres have been screening it, and it's going for wide release in Britain this month, so I'm hoping that it will appear again somewhere where I can see it in the near future. [I did find a small independant theatre showing it on July 20th. Even though it's not IMAX, I'm still going.]

There's going to be so much in the next week or so about Apollo 11 and the first moon landing. Follow along on Twitter with @nasamoon @TheRealBuzz @AstroMCollins , or check out a local science/space centre near you for more great programing about this magnificent historical expedition!

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