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Museums mark 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with events and technology

space center houston apollo 11

Museums and attractions held a series of programmes and events to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20.

These include a giant moon (and yoga classes) at the National History Museum, Space Center Houston’s ‘Apollo 11 50th Live’, various NASA-led events, and an augmented reality (AR) app from the Smithsonian Channel.

Space Center Houston’s concert under the stars

space center houston apollo 11

Space Center Houston hosted Apollo 11 50th Live, a celebration focusing on innovation and immersive learning.

The event welcomed more than 13,000 people, a record for Space Center Houston. Visitors had the chance to explore the Family STEM Zone, a golfing on the moon simulator, robotic challenges, and Apollo-themed experiences.

Apollo 11 50th Live also featured astronauts and Apollo legends, as well as a 1960s-themed Discovery Reserve Beer Garden, a concert under the stars, and an interactive countdown to Neil Armstrong‘s landing on the moon.

“It was an awe-inspiring day filled with excitement and fuelled by the historic achievements of the Apollo-era,” said William T Harris, President and CEO of Space Center Houston.

Smithsonian Channel’s augmented reality app

Meanwhile, the Smithsonian Channel launched an augmented reality (AR) app called ‘Apollo’s Moon Shot’. The app puts users on the surface of the moon, allowing them to experience Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s first steps in 1969.

Users can virtually moonwalk, enjoy the moon’s craters, and experience altered gravity. Apollo’s Moon Shot also lets users simulate the mission takeoff, and offers two games – ‘Moon Shot Challenge’ and ‘Lunar Landing Challenge’.

“It makes the landing more interactive, and it allows people to bring the Apollo program into their own experience,” said Teasel Muir-Harmony, Curator at the National Air and Space Museum.

The Smithsonian Channel launched the app alongside its six-part ‘Apollo’s Moon Shot’ series, which tells the story of the Apollo 11 landing using artefacts, rare archival footage and audio tapes.

National Air and Space Museum projection

apollo 50 national air and space

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum also projected a full-sized, 363-foot Saturn V rocket onto the east face of the Washington Monument for three nights last week.

For a further two nights, the ‘Apollo 50: Go for the Moon’ show combined full-motion projection-mapping of the artwork and archival footage on screens to recreate the Apollo 11 launch and tell the story of the first moon landing.

“Our identity as Americans is defined in part by the historic act of landing humans on the moon and returning them safely to the Earth,” said Ellen Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the museum.

“The Washington Monument is a symbol of our collective national achievements and what we can and will achieve in the future. It took 400,000 people from across the 50 states to make Apollo a reality. This program celebrates them, and we hope it inspires generations too young to have experienced Apollo firsthand to define their own moonshot.”

Yoga under the moon at the Natural History Museum

Earlier this year, the Natural History Museum revealed it would be hosting yoga and wellness classes under a large installation of the moon for the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

A touring artwork by UK artist Luke JerramMuseum of the Moon has been designed to look as realistic as possible, using detailed 120dpi NASA imagery of the lunar surface.

The lunar artwork will be the centrepiece for various events at the Natural History Museum, including a ‘Lates’ celebrating the moon landing anniversary.

Guests to the event on July 26 will be able to hold 4.5-billion-year-old meteorites, take a virtual tour of the surface of Mars, and experience a replica of Armstrong’s spacesuit.

NASA Apollo 50 events and programmes

apollo 50 nasa

NASA and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum also hosted the Apollo 50 Festival at the National Mall in Washington, which featured exhibits, speakers, demonstrations and fun activities.

Elsewhere, NASA representatives will also be participating at the Apollo A-Maze-Ment, an Apollo-themed corn maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

NASA and the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, also marked the anniversary with NASA astronauts, space inflatables, interactive STEM activities, rocket launches, and more.

Space Center Houston previously unveiled the restored Apollo Mission Control Center ahead of the 50th anniversary. Visitors will see restored flight control consoles and reactivated screens with the images seen during the Apollo 11 mission.

Images: NHM/NASA/Smithsonian

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Bea Mitchell

A journalist specialising in entertainment and attractions, Bea loves theme parks (mainly Disney) and is particularly interested in things of a gothic, horror or fantasy nature.

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