National Moon Day
National Moon Day is celebrated every year on July 20th. The holiday commemorates the day the first man walked on the moon – July 20, 1969. National Moon Day may only be celebrated in the United States but it marks a moment that is a milestone for all of humanity. NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) reported the moon landing as being” …the single greatest technological achievement of all time.”
Landing on the moon has been hailed as the single greatest technological achievement of all time. To mark the occasion, it’s a great time to break out the telescope or the binoculars.
History of National Moon Day
At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, spoke these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle Apollo 11, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. It took four days for the rocket to arrive after taking off from the Kennedy Space Center, placing the three-man crew on the lunar surface.
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first humans, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon. Armstrong stepped first onto the lunar surface, six hours after landing, and spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft. Aldrin spent slightly less time but together they collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Michael Collins piloted Apollo 11 and remained alone in orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned.
The crew was on the moon’s surface for about 21 hours and 36 minutes, almost a full day. However, the time they spent physically on the moon’s surface was about 2 ½ hours. Caught up in the thrill of the adventure, millions of Americans watched the mission from Earth, the event was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience and all witnessed as Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface.
President Richard Nixon declared the commemorative holiday in 1971, and people have diligently campaigned to make it a national holiday. As the fanfare died down, the event was drifting into obscurity until a gas station attendant from Michigan took up the cause to bring it back. With no continuing proclamation to follow, Richard Christmas took up the baton and began a “Chrismas Card” writing campaign. A former gas station attendant, the Michigan native wrote to governors, congressmen, and senators in all 50 states urging them to create National Moon Day. By July of 1975, 12 states had sponsored bills observing Moon Day.
James J. Mullaney, former Curator of Exhibits and Astronomy at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Staff Astronomer at the Allegheny Observatory, is a modern-day supporter of a National Moon Day. He says, “If there’s a Columbus Day on the calendar, there certainly should be a Moon Day!” Mr. Mullaney has been working toward making National Moon Day an official Federal holiday. His efforts became known as the Christmas Card Campaign and today we celebrate National Moon Day thanks to the inspiration of this one man.
The moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite and was formed 4.6 billion years ago. There have been twelve astronauts that have walked on the moon since 1969.
Suggested Read: Meteor Watch Day
Future missions to the Moon
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) hopes that its Gaganyaan Mission will be successful in launching Indian astronauts into space paving the way for them to one day land on the Moon.
The US, the pioneers of exploration on the Moon, also their mission pegged to launch in 2024. The $30 billion Artemis project is going to be the US’ first step towards building a Lunar Gateway — an outpost or moon base that will orbit the Moon and serve as a landing pad to and from the Moon’s surface — in addition to mining for resources on the surface.
According to the US government, Artemis will be the skeleton on which future manned missions — like a mission to Mars — will be built.
So let’s celebrate one of the Earth’s greatest phenomena! Celebrate the day by using #NationalMoonDay to post on social media. Have a Happy Moon Day!
Suggested Read: Important Days In July