BY BRUCE GAVETT AND ALLYSON MCCAULEY
On July 20th, 1969, something astonishing happened. For the first time in history, a human from the planet Earth stepped onto another world. Perhaps you watched the event live. Or you’ve simply heard it referenced: “One small step… one giant leap….” The three adventurers were Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins. They flew Apollo 11to the Moon and back. Armstrong and Aldrin landed and walked on the Moon, while Collins remained in lunar orbit.
The landing wasn’t an isolated event. It took thousands of people and billions of dollars to make it to the Moon. And it didn’t happen overnight. The Moon landing was the culmination of a space program—and space race—that began in the late 1950s. There were setbacks along the way, but America pushed forward. President Kennedy set the goal: “We choose to go to the Moon….” There was the Soviet Union’s Sputnik and the United States’ Explorer, the first satellites in orbit. Then humans ventured into space with the Mercury and Vostok programs. Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard, and John Glenn were the heroes of the time. Spaceflight became more complex with the Gemini and Voskhod spacecraft. Missions were longer, and we learned how to rendezvous and “walk” in space. Then came Apollo and Soyuz. Apollo brought with it the huge Saturn V rocket, and, with Apollo, we made it to the Moon and back. Soyuz stayed in orbit around the Earth, but, today, it is the craft used to travel to and from the International Space Station.
July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic first trip to the Moon. To celebrate, Kaleideum is hosting Moonstruck Summer, featuring Moon-related activities at both locations on an almost-daily basis. The celebration began on Memorial Day and will continue through Labor Day. From puppets and plays to crafts and science demonstrations, there’s something for nearly everyone. Visit kaleideum.org for the schedule of activities.
The highlight of the summer will be the Moon RocksPartyon Saturday, July 20th (the actual50th anniversary of the walk on the Moon) from 6-10 p.m.The theme for the event is “Party Like It’s 1969,” and Museum staff hope to re-create the feel of the parties that families and friends held 50 years ago to watch the “giant leap for mankind” as it unfolded. Party guests can:
- Count down to the launch of a Saturn V model rocket.
- Watch the Apollo 11documentary, which recently screened in theaters nationwide.
- Listen to the real-time audio feed as Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon.
- Taste something out of this world in a performance of Peppercorn Theatre’s new play, Stoo’s Famous Martian-American Gumbo.
- Make a tie-dyed bandana.
- Dance to tunes by Carolina Crossing, including hits from the 60s.
- Sample Tang and moon pies provided by Lowes Foods Reynolda Road.
- View the stars with Forsyth Astronomical Society (weather permitting).
- Rock out to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in a planetarium laser show.
There will also be door prizes, science demonstrations, and planetarium shows. Dinner can be purchased from Foothills Brewery and ice cream treats from the Ice Queen. Cash bars by Foothills (beer & wine) and Mayberry Spirits Distillery (mixed drinks & non-alcoholic specialty drinks) will also be available. Retro attire is encouraged!
Advance tickets may be purchased online at kaleideum.org: $10 for adults and $5 for youth, ages 1-19. (Children under 11 months are free.) Tickets will also be available at the door: $12 for adults, $6 for children, and $3 for EBT cardholders, as part of the Museums for All initiative. Members and non-members must purchase tickets.
Journey with Kaleideum as they explore the Moon, remember the pioneers who took us there, and anticipate the exciting voyages yet to come!