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Apollo 11 Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary

Apollo 11 Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary

Frosty Drew Observatory
Friday July 19, 2019 at 6:00 p.m
$5 Suggested Donation per person 5 years and older

Tonight, Frosty Drew Observatory is hosting our special Stargazing Nights event themed for the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary. A night of stargazing, presentations, imagery, and celebrations about the first time humans walked on another world. Forecasts for tonight are quite variable, ranging from mostly clear to mostly cloudy. For sure we will see some level of cloud cover tonight, and depending on how heavy, it could obscure our views. Jupiter and Saturn and quite bright, and thinner cloud cover and haze actually help out by stabilizing our view. Add in that the 93% waning gibbous Moon rises at 10:15 pm, which will fit nicely into our lunar theme, and we could outshine thinner cloud cover. Regardless, we will have a true geek out tonight.

The Observatory, Sky Theatre, and Science Center opens at 6:00 pm. In the Observatory courtyard we’ll monitor sky conditions and if acceptable, we’ll set up our hydrogen alpha telescope and offer up fabulous views of the Sun. Once the Sun sets, we will direct our telescopes towards Jupiter, which will have all four Galilean Moons in view, and possibly a departing view of the Great Red Spot. Saturn with its fabulous rings is up next, with the Moon on the list after it clears the tree line. If skies are on the clearer side, courtyard telescopes will showcase binary stars, nebulae, and star clusters. We may catch a quick view of the Milky Way for about 15-20 minutes before the Moon starts to obscure our view. In the Sky Theatre, NASA Solar System Ambassador – Frank Puglia will offer presentations about the Moon and the Apollo missions. If you haven’t seen Frank speak, then you are missing out! In the Science Center we will launch our Apollo 11 Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary gallery, which will run through the end of July, and includes a 12 foot wide photo of the Apollo 11 Landing Site and surrounding region captured by the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). We will close up at 11:30 pm.

Overall, tonight is a questionable night. The forecast is variable, which could equate to clearer skies, though we are expecting some level of cloud cover tonight. But we think we can scrape a view together. Additionally, with all the buzz happening on the campus about the Apollo 11 anniversary, it will certainly be a night to visit. If you’re looking to catch a view of the Milky Way, tonight is probably not your night, as thinner clouds could obscure your view, with the Moon eventually overtaking any galactic views after 10:05 pm. If the Moon or the Apollo landings are your thing, or if you just want a night to geek out with loads of space awesomeness, then tonight is your night to connect with the cosmos and be reminded of the amazing things that humans can do. So stop in at Frosty Drew Observatory and celebrate the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary with us, tonight!

Weekly Happenings
Scott MacNeill

Though at Frosty Drew Observatory, we are celebrating the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Anniversary tonight, the actual anniversary date is tomorrow, Saturday, July 20th. This was the day that humans first stood on another world! The Apollo 11 Lunar Module (the Eagle) touched down at Tranquility Base in Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility) at 4:17 pm EDT on July 20, 1969. The entire extravehicular activity (EVA), when the astronauts departed the Lunar Module for the lunar surface, lasted just under 2 hours and 32 minutes and began at 10:39 pm EDT. During which time, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin collected 47 pounds of lunar samples, setup live broadcast television equipment, the US flag, deployed the Solar Wind Composition Experiment, the Laser Ranging Retroreflector, Passive Seismic Experiment, and the Lunar Dust Detector experiments; all while capturing fabulous photographs of the lunar surface at Tranquility Base. The entire EVA took place within 100 meters of the Lunar Module. The EVA ended at 1:11 am EDT on July 21, 1969.

In celebration of this historic journey and milestone in human history, NASA is in full out Apollo mission mode! Check out fabulous panoramic images of the Apollo mission landing sites, assembled by NASA data scientists to commemorate the anniversary. Then stop over at NASA TV and check out their schedule, which is packed with Apollo goodness all week long. If that is just not geek enough for you, then take a stop over at NASA’s special Apollo 50th page for videos, photos, and audio excerpts from the missions. During all this awesomeness, be sure to take a moment to think about how amazing this landing actually was; as it applies to human curiosity, determination, and potential; and take solace that even though there are terrible things that many humans do, it is the amazing things we accomplish and our unrelenting passion for pushing the limits that defines us.

So the Apollo 11 landing, and Neil Armstrong. We all know the story and seen the pics. But are we actually seeing what we think we are seeing in the photos? Now I’m not talking about lunar landing hoaxes and all that garbage, of course we landed on the Moon, and a general misunderstanding of inertia among those that do not believe, is not evidence of a hoax. What I’m talking about is the boot print on the lunar surface and who is actually in the photos. Most of the photography at Tranquility Base was captured by Neil Armstrong. Nearly all quality images of astronauts on the lunar surface are photos of Buzz Aldrin, including the boot print photo, which is not the first footprint, but instead is Buzz Aldrin’s boot print in the lunar regolith (powdery material covering the rocky lunar surface). During the Apollo 11 EVA, Neil Armstrong had the primary camera. Buzz Aldrin also had a camera, but was tasked with photographing specific details of a technical nature. This resulted in most photos showing Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface. Interestingly, there are more pictures of Neil Armstrong’s butt than of his face during the EVA. This in no way takes away from the level of sheer awesome that this EVA was, but it is a fun fact and a slight perspective changer.

Tomorrow night, in celebration of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary, Waterfire will host a full lighting themed on the lunar landing. For those who are unfamiliar with Waterfire, this is an event where braziers placed along the three rivers of Providence, RI are set ablaze. There is fabulous music, food trucks, vendors, performers, and fantastic presentations / displays set up all along the river; and of course the ambient surrealism of the smoke. Along river walk, from College Street, all the way to the Basin, numerous universities and science organizations will be hosting presentations. Stop in at Market Square and catch Brown University and the RI Sidewalk Astronomers with telescopes setup on Jupiter and Saturn. The festivities start at sunset, and they will be awesome. So make this a weekend of Lunar Landing celebrations in RI with nights of stars, planets, smoke and science.

Save the Date:
Celebrate the Milky Way event at Frosty Drew Observatory
On Saturday, July 27, 2019, Frosty Drew Observatory will open at sunset to celebrate, what we think, is the best Saturday in July to see the fabulous Milky Way visible over Frosty Drew Observatory. This is the night that we direct our telescopes towards the galaxy and observe dozens of the most amazing sights in the galaxy that we are part of. So put a little amazement on your calendar and become acquainted with that mind-blowing view that has inspired explorers through the history of our species.

Check out our page on Visiting Frosty Drew Observatory to learn more about what to expect at the Observatory and better help you prepare for your visit.