It’s been 50 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquillity and there are many commemorative events coming up to the anniversary on 21st July.
As expected, NASA is celebrating and there’s a whole raft of information and historical footage on a special Apollo 50th section of its website. I particularly like the mission audio that’s presented day-by-day. Listen to day 5 from about 6 mins in for the last few seconds of the descent and as the lunar module lands you hear the immortal words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed.”
On the watch side, Omega’s Speedmaster Professional is forever associated with space exploration, visiting the moon six times – it’s not called the Moonwatch for nothing. To mark the event, there’s the Apollo 11 Anniversary edition in gold and red. Kind of pricey, mind you.
At the cheaper end of the market, i.e. free, the BBC World Service is joining in on the celebrations with 13 Minutes to the Moon, a series of radio programmes and podcasts based on interviews and recordings from the people who were there including Michael Collins, Jim Lovell and, Poppy Northcutt who was the first woman to work as an engineer in an operational support role in NASA’s Mission Control.
The first episode is available on 13 May but there are a few teasers in the podcast feed already. Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer has done the theme music. This is going to be epic.
For the second time in a few weeks the moon, Venus, and Jupiter will come together in our night sky for a great viewing opportunity. The alignment will be at it’s peak both tonight and tomorrow night (March 25 and 26). If you are lucky enough to be in area that isn’t overcast then you will be treated to the crescent moon appearing between Jupiter (below the moon) and the brighter Venus (above).
If you are looking for the conjunction then plan to look west just after sunset. Jupiter will appear about 15 degrees above the horizon with the moon just above it and Venus about 10 degrees higher than the moon. To give you an idea of exactly how bright the two planets will be you may actually be able to see them during daylight hours. They can be hard to spot during daylight most of the time, but thanks to their proximity to the moon, which is easily found during the day, they become much easier to locate.
For more in-depth information you can check out Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog over at Discover Magazine. You can also check out the skymap below, which is also courtesy of Phil.
In a very quick bit of non-CES news, check out this picture taken during Tuesday’s solar eclipse by photographer Thierry Legault. It shows the International Space Station in front of the Sun as the Sun itself is partially occluded by the Moon. Amazing.
What’s even more amazing is that Thierry had less than one second in which to take the photo – that’s how quickly the ISS passes across the Sun. You can read all about how the photograph was taken over at Bad Astronomy.