From the July 2019 issue

Celebrating the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary in Metro Detroit

It's been five decades since we first landed on the moon. Here are some fun moon facts and family events to celebrate the Apollo 11 50th anniversary.

Image of the American flag on the moon
Photo from NASA

The moon’s got a big celebration this month! On July 20, it’ll be five decades since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took one giant leap for mankind and left the first footprints on the moon – not to mention ignited the dreams of young wannabe astronauts everywhere.

That mission, dubbed Apollo 11, was responsible for numerous scientific and technological advancements.

Most notably, it proved the power of human curiosity and resilience.

“Apollo 11 was really exciting because a human being stepped foot in another world,” says Paulette Epstein, director of museum programs at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit. “From landing on the moon for the first time, we learned that we were able to do it, (and) that was the most important thing.”

Apollo Family Fun

Want to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with your fam? Here are six local ways to join in the party around southeast Michigan on Saturday, July 20.

Space egg-sploration

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Swing by Detroit’s Michigan Science Center for guest speakers and planetarium shows – plus straw rocket crafts, hands-on activities in the Explainer Station and the “Egg-pollo 11” egg drop challenge. Runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and is free with museum entry: $11-$14 (free/under 2). mi-sci.org.

Planetarium programming

Catch a variety of shows and events commemorating the Apollo 11 mission at the planetarium at Wayne State University. Check ahead to find one that interests your fam. events.wayne.edu.

Space rocks

From 1 to 4 p.m., families meet at the Cranbrook Institute of Science to learn about the geology of the moon through virtual reality. You’ll also get to observe the moon during the day. It’s free with museum admission: $9.50-$13, free/under 2. science.cranbrook.edu.

Star tours

Hudson Mills Metropark in Dexter offers tours of the stars and constellations, up-close views of the moon, stories and celestial crafts to take home. Get in on the fun 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission is free but fees apply for some activities. Parking is $10/vehicle. metroparks.com.

Hands-on Apollo

Head to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum during regular hours to learn the history of human space exploration and the race to the moon as you travel around the solar system and enjoy hands-on activities. Admission to the museum is $12.50/person (free/2 and under). aahom.org.

Virtual Camp

Metro Parent and Michigan Science Center team up every summer to give kids free, fun experiments. The first two focus on space – making straw rockets and your own craters! Register for the Virtual Camp to join in the fun.

Fun moon facts

Looking for even more ways to celebrate the Apollo 11 50th anniversary? The Michigan Science Center reveals four fascinating moon facts to impress your friends.

  1. Sunlight hitting the moon causes the moon to go through different phases. “The moon goes through these phases every month,” says Paulette Epstein with MiSci. “That is where the word ‘month’ comes from: the phases of the moon.”
  2. “The near side of the moon has dark areas called maria,” Epstein explains. These maria were once thought to be oceans, but it was discovered that they’re really frozen lava and only exist on the near side.
  3. “The gravity of the moon is about one-fifth as strong as the surface of the Earth,” says Epstein. This made standing up and maneuvering the moon dangerous “(Astronauts) had to be careful when they were bouncing on the moon. A hole in their space suit could have cost them their lives.”
  4. The gravity that the moon does have tugs on the Earth and affects the tides of our ocean, Epstein says. “That’s why we have high tides, low tides and different tides during different phases of the moon.”

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