NATIONAL MOON DAY
National Moon Day is observed annually on July 20 and commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969. NASA reported the moon landing as being “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.”
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first humans, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon. Six hours after landing, Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface. He spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft. He was soon followed by Buzz Aldrin. While Aldrin spent slightly less time on the moon than Armstrong, together they collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Michael Collins, piloted Apollo 11, remained alone in orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned.
Caught up in the thrill of the adventure, millions watched the mission from Earth. Televisions around the world tuned in to the live broadcasts giving the astronaut a world-wide audience. As a result, all witnessed as Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface and described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Unquestionably a tangible achievement in the space race, reaching the moon placed the United States in a role to go forth and explore farther and deeper into the reach of the universe. In the months and decade that followed, NASA and the Soviets stepped up the missions.
Fast forward forty years and private expeditions plan to take humankind exploring our solar system. Armstrong’s “one small step for mankind” inspired imaginations and sparked innovation for generations to come.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Share your memories of the moon landing. View the moon through a telescope and explore the surface. Start a discussion about space exploration and how it’s influenced the world today. Use #NationalMoonDay to share on social media.
NATIONAL MOON DAY HISTORY
In 1971, President Richard Nixon proclaimed National Moon Landing Day on July 20 to commemorate the anniversary of man’s first moon landing.
With no continuing proclamation to follow, Richard Christmas took up the baton and began a “Chrismas Card” writing campaign. A former gas station attendant, the Michigan native wrote to governors, congressmen and senators in all 50 states urging them to create National Moon Day. By July of 1975, 12 states had sponsored bills observing Moon Day.
James J. Mullaney, former Curator of Exhibits and Astronomy at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Staff Astronomer at the Allegheny Observatory, is a modern day supporter of a National Moon Day. He says, “If there’s a Columbus Day on the calendar, there certainly should be a Moon Day!” Mr. Mullaney has been working toward making National Moon Day an official Federal holiday.
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