Apollo, Armagh and the Place for House – Astronotes

July 18, 2019 - Comment

Article by Professor Michael Burton, Director of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium Buzz Aldrin on the Moon, as photographed by Neil Armstrong (who may be seen in reflection in Aldrin’s vizor). (Picture credit score: Neil Armstrong/NASA). July 20, 2019 marks 50 years from the day Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon, humanity’s first foot steps

Article by Professor Michael Burton, Director of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

Image of AldrinBuzz Aldrin on the Moon, as photographed by Neil Armstrong (who may be seen in reflection in Aldrin’s vizor). (Picture credit score: Neil Armstrong/NASA).

July 20, 2019 marks 50 years from the day Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon, humanity’s first foot steps on one other world. As a lot an awe inspiring feat then because it stays immediately. Certainly, regardless of the revolution in know-how since 1969, such that the Apollo 11 astronauts can be misplaced in our trendy world had they returned from a 50 yr voyage of discovery, we are literally much less succesful immediately of sending “a person to the Moon and returning him safely” – in President Kennedy’s immortal phrases that launched the Apollo programme – than we had been within the 60’s on the daybreak of the area age.

We select to go to the Moon! President John Kennedy’s well-known speech from September 12, 1962. “We select to go to the Moon…We select to go to the Moon on this decade and do the opposite issues, not as a result of they’re straightforward, however as a result of they’re arduous; as a result of that objective will serve to arrange and measure the perfect of our energies and abilities, as a result of that problem is one which we’re keen to simply accept, one we’re unwilling to postpone”. Earlier, on Might 25, 1961 Kennedy had stood earlier than Congress and proposed that the US “ought to commit itself to attaining the objective, earlier than this decade is out, of touchdown a person on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth”.

Whereas it was politics and nationwide pleasure that launched the Apollo programme, and introduced it to an abrupt finish as soon as it had achieved its main goal – the Moon touchdown itself – this was an occasion that introduced humanity collectively. One that every one on Planet Earth might really feel a collective a part of when gazing up in the direction of the ball which lights our evening sky and types an integral a part of our collective consciousness, understanding that there was an individual strolling on its floor. Probably the one occasion in human historical past that this declare may be made for?

Whereas I’ve watched the recording of the descent of the Eagle from the Command Module to the lunar floor numerous occasions, it nonetheless stays backbone tingling. Listening in to the communications between astronauts and mission management, as unknown fault lights seem, Armstrong navigating previous boulders and a crater within the touchdown subject, all whereas the gas meter falls perilously near empty, earlier than landing. With mission management “turning blue” from collectively holding their breath in these closing seconds.

In Armagh Planetarium’s Dome we will now expertise this sequence in an immersive surroundings, watching the brand new full dome planetarium present produced by the Nationwide House Centre telling the story of Apollo – “CapCom Go!“. It’s actually gripping, although everyone knows the end result! CapCom Go types the centre piece of our personal celebrations to recollect Apollo in Armagh.

The Armagh Planetarium because it regarded like in 1969 when Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon.

50 years in the past Armagh Planetarium was simply 1 yr previous. That the majority well-known of astronomers, Patrick Moore had been its first Director. He had been answerable for acquiring Armagh’s first “star projector” and the commissioning of the Planetarium with it. Moore was an authority on the Moon. His “Information to the Moon” written in 1953 offering a captivating perception into what we then thought we knew concerning the Moon. Each for that which proved to be appropriate, and for that which turned out to be utterly incorrect!. His map of the Moon was the final of the good hand drawn maps, constructed up from the painstaking observations made by many main observers, himself included, all rigorously charting the topography of the Moon by watching via their telescopes the altering shadows of the mountains throughout the floor at lunar dawn and sundown. Moore’s map hangs on the wall of the Planetarium immediately.

Patrick Moore’s map of the Moon in 1969, specifically drawn for the Apollo missions, that hangs within the Armagh Planetarium. Credit score Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.

Moore had really moved on from Armagh by the point of the Moon touchdown, the calls for of working the month-to-month “Sky at Night time” BBC TV present from London proving too demanding to additionally stay working the Planetarium. Nonetheless, for the toddler Planetarium, reporting on the Moon landings and explaining what it was all about, turned our first nice mission. Armagh Planetarium earned its moniker then as “the Place for House”. Our popularity immediately, because the longest working Planetarium in the entire of the UK and Eire, dates again to the function we performed then in telling the general public concerning the Moon and the story of the Apollo programme.

So immediately, 50 years on from Neil Armstrong’s “One Big Leap”, we’re proud to have the ability to inform the story of Apollo as soon as once more, to elucidate it now with the good thing about immersive applied sciences that provides one the chance to expertise the occasions in ways in which weren’t even dreamt about it 1969, in addition to to inform the broader story of astronomy, area and our marvel concerning the cosmos past our planet.

Aldrin’s boot print on the Moon in 1969. It’ll nonetheless be there now. (Picture credit score: Neil Armstrong/NASA)

Therefore our “One Big Leap” competition over this summer season of 2019, commencing with “Museum of the Moon on the Mall” on the weekend of July 20-21, and a summer season stuffed with actions within the Planetarium and our Astropark. The total programme of actions is to be discovered on our new web site – armagh.area – however right here I’ll simply spotlight a few of the new experiences.

The Museum of the Moon is a 7m diameter globe that will probably be suspended above the north finish of the Mall (climate allowing!). It precisely depicting the floor of the Moon. A full programme of actions, on the Mall and within the Planetarium, accompanies it.

We even have a particular exhibition to rejoice the centenary of the Worldwide Astronomical Union (or IAU) – the main scientific physique for world astronomy, which simply so occurs to be celebrating its centenary this yr. “Above and Past” celebrates the achievements in astronomy over the previous century – the science, the know-how and the affect on our tradition. A number of contributions from Eire are outstanding! The exhibition is unfold throughout 5 venue in Armagh as properly to accommodate it, grouped decade-by-decade. Whereas the beginning and end is within the Armagh Planetarium, additionally, you will need to go to the Armagh County Museum, the Market Place Theatre, the Robinson Library and Quantity 5, Vicars Hill, to see the complete exhibition. It runs from July 20th till July 31st. [The Apollo 11 mission is shown in the module displayed in the Robinson Library.]

A brand new function for the Planetarium and Astropark is an augmented actuality (AR) exhibition. Expertise Apollo, the Moon, in addition to the planets, stars and galaxies alongside the Photo voltaic System walkway and up the Hill of Infinity via a brand new Augmented Actuality expertise. That is nonetheless an rising know-how, and that is our first trial exercise on this enviornment, one we hope to develop additional sooner or later. The AR exhibition solely works within the Planetarium and Astropark – the options are geo-located there – so that you get to expertise them if you end up in the proper location in your stroll round our grounds. A full scale Saturn 5 rocket, prepared for blast off, is on the Hypercube on the backside of the Hill of Infinity, and you may get to launch it from the Stone Circle on the prime of the hill!

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