let’s go to the moon

When I was a kid, I read this cool book from National Geographic called Let's Go To The Moon. It was, as you may have figured out, all about the Apollo program, but mostly focused on Apollo 11.

I already liked science fiction and astronomy (well, the little-kid-without-a-telescope version of astronomy, which was mostly limited to finding constellations and planets, but we all have to start somewhere) so I spent a lot of time with that book, imagining what it would be like to fly to the moon, walk around on it, and come home.

This week is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, and I've found a few things that I thought I'd share, if for no other reason than 9-year-old me would think they're cool:

SomaFM has a really cool station Mission Control:

Mission Control will feature ambient space music that's somewhere
between Space Station Soma and Drone Zone, mixed with NASA audio.  In
the future, we'll have other historical space exploration rebroadcasts
as well as live Space Shuttle coverage.

Did you see the LRO photos of the Apollo mission sites?

I'm kind of Pink Floyd super fan number one, but I didn't know that the band was invited by BBC to improvise a soundtrack to the moon landing. Can you imagine something like that happening today? If it had been post-Meddle, I bet they'd just have played some epic version of Echoes.

We Choose The Moon is the kind of multimedia experience I always hoped the Internet would provide, back in the olden days when digital watches were a pretty neat idea.

In one of the more clever uses of Twitter that I've seen, there are three Twitter accounts recreating the mission communications: @AP11_CAPCOM, @AP11_SPACECRAFT, and @AP11_EAGLE.

NASA has newly-released mission audio, restored Apollo 11 video, and a real-time replay of the mission that you can stream online if you have Windows Media Player. Mac and *nix users should be able to use the audio player at We Choose The Moon (powered by Shoutcast, FTW) to hear it. I've been listening to it for almost an hour, and it's more compelling than I expected.

Tor.com is celebrating the Apollo anniversary (and their own) by asking authors, artists, critics, and fans in the science fiction community to
send their stories of what they were doing when the LEM landed on
the lunar surface, and to relate how it informed their relationship
with science fiction. (The blog post I've linked is awesome. You should really go read it.)

Even if you only get a couple of minutes, and you can only look at some of this stuff, I hope you will, and I hope find it as inspiring as I do. To steal a phrase from Torie at Tor:

Every time I look at those images I am moved by the breadth of human
ingenuity. All my cynicism is replaced by a belief that with passion,
hard work, and perseverance, we can overcome any barrier—even the ones
we didn’t know we had set for ourselves. We can achieve any measure of
greatness. We can become our fiction and make our dreams something
tangible, attainable.

We can touch the sky.

32 thoughts on “let’s go to the moon”

  1. Feeling the same way about all this. It might also be spurred by the belated honeymoon my wife and I just took back to her home state of Florida, where we had the extremely lucky opportunity to watch the launch of STS-127 from the Banana Creek (aka, Saturn V ) viewing center. Sat with the mother-in-law of astronaut Tim Kopra and other relatives.
    Wil — believe me when I tell you this — if you’ve never gone, write your congress person and ask for a VIP viewing pass (only way to get to Banana Creek) because it’s an experience that I, and you, will never forget.
    …and listening to the radio replay is really, really cool.

  2. http://tor.com is posting short writeups by various SF/F authors on what they were doing during the moon landing/moon walk, including Larry Niven, Robert Silverburg and many others. Kind of interesting for those of us who aren’t old enough to remember (or weren’t even born at the time.)
    The site is a little slashdotted so patience or cachediving may be required.

  3. One of the times my family went to Florida for vacation we went to the Kennedy Space Center where they had (if I recall correctly) the original mission control computer equipment from the Apollo days. They have a show where they play the original audio from one of the launches (illuminated the station that was doing the talking), and at lift-off, the windows even glow orange, and rattle from the rumbling of the rocket.
    For many it was just kinda cheesy, but personally I actually teared up a bit and it was a really incredible experience almost feeling like you were there at the historic liftoff.
    But I know I need to get to see a rocket launch in person someday. That has got to be amazing.

  4. Buzz Aldrin was totally here in Orlando signing copies of his new book and celebrating the Apollo 11 anniversary over in Kennedy Space Center. I sadly could not go. Boooo.

  5. Like you, I wasn’t yet born during the Apollo 11 mission, and, like you, I was also a kid-without-a-telescope amateur astronomer (this was made easier by living for several years in the mountains outside Denver, CO), and am still a total space nut.
    I’ve been enjoying the radio replay – it IS really cool, and also a little spooky, but in a good way – missed the twitter thing, but wow! Neat idea.
    And for my own personal celebration of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, I’m re-watching all of Tom Hank’s series From the Earth to the Moon, while I write today.
    Happy stargazing.

  6. :D This past week has been so exciting! I keep meaning to blog about it myself as I wanted to be an astronaut and was going to go into astrophysics after HS. When I was in grade 11 and participated in the Science Olympics at UVic I was so happy to win a book (well I got to choose the prize after I had won one of the physics competitions) on the solar system. And yes, Stephen Hawking is in my library as well.
    It is still one of my most favourite things to do is lay out under the stars, find the constellations and look at the moon and go “Holy shit DUDE, man has stepped foot on that!” And this week has been even more exciting for me as there are TWO Canadians currently on the ISS and every day they are using Canadian tech for this current mission.
    I cannot wait for the day we return to the moon. And I like you have been totally obsessed with the moon landing stuff. Also NASA TV is always on.
    Astronauts are heroes. They give us something to shoot for and the ability to dream and risk their lives for it.

  7. I’m guessing it was Tor, but Charles Stross mentioned on his blog being asked to write about the launch. His reply was “sure, but I was only four years old at the time …” :)
    Personally, I was -4 at the time, but I think his recollection probably isn’t much different than mine.

  8. Heh. I updated this post before I saw your comment, because I got the e-mail from Tor.com right after I originally published it.
    I’ve been lucky enough to talk to some of the Great Old Ones in SF, and it’s always incredible to hear their stories about life before and during the time people walked on the moon.

  9. Our new (local cable near Detroit) video show’s first episode attempted to cover naked eye astronomy. Constellations, meteor showers and the Milky Way are best seen naked eye. There are a few double stars (Mizar/Alcor), a galaxy (Andromeda), a few clusters (M44, M45, M13) that are visible. There’s the Moon, with a bunch of stuff, and as dots, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus (a challenge naked eye object). Is that enough to get a kid going? The real problem is finding stuff. It’s so much easier if someone shows you. But now, your scope’s computer can do that.
    I’ve seen the rings of Saturn in binoculars. And my 50 mm Sears telescope showed them OK.
    http://www.astronomyforeveryone.org/

  10. Wow, maybe if I read your whole post before excitedly blurting out my own thought, I’d have seen that you already mentioned that. /lart self.

  11. Man, if I coulda seen the stars from my city when I was a kid, I would have loved astronomy that much more. My favorite field trips were to the planetarium; it was just amazing- especially looking at the sun through the little reflector telescope thing they had set up. I never understood constellation maps so I never found constellations, though.
    Thank you sooo much for the links!! This is pretty much your coolest blog post EVER.

  12. I WAS alive–I was eight, and I lived in Orange County. Many of my classmates’ dads were engineers in the space program, and we were thoroughly indoctrinated into the Cult of NASA, a cult I’ve never quite left. :)
    Everything was space that year. Our Halloween parade was space-themed. My best friend and I won third prize for our awesome silver and white costumes; we were the Princesses from Pluto.
    All kinds of weird crap hit the market, too, besides of course Tang. The one I remember best were these strange, doughy, oddly tasty things called Space Food Sticks, which I am astonished are still made and sold. I don’t even know what’s in them, but they were one of the first individually wrapped things that ever went into my lunch. I loved them.
    As amazing as the moon landing is, 40 years out, to be alive and be a child on that day was electrifying. I’d look up and think, there are guys up there on the moon, walking around, and then all the hair on my body would stand on end. The world seemed to be falling apart; good men were assassinated, people were rioting. But dang, there were guys on the moon!

  13. Fantastic stuff :D
    Don’t think my wish to do a space walk has ever changed since I was little and I always wanted to walk on the moon too

  14. I got the chance to meet and interview Charlie Duke, the CAPCOM for the Apollo 11 mission (Roger Twank..Tranquility we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue here. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!) Man, he had some stories to tell about that day, and his own moonwalk on Apollo 16. Here’s the link.
    http://www.newstreamz.com/2009/04/08/apollo-moonwalker-comes-to-texas-state/
    This was better than science fiction. It’s science fact. We did it, and we need to not just go back, but go further. This was a great day for the whole species.
    And, not for nothing, but I once sent NASA a letter extolling the virtues of making me America’s first child astronaut when I was 10, and how we would beat the Russians to that important milestone. They never got back to me, but I remain a fan.

  15. I work for FLORIDA TODAY, the paper that covers the Space Coast and I hope you might enjoy this website
    http://moonlanding.historybeat.com/
    A little about the website….
    To celebrate that event, Florida Today partnered with Footnote.com to create a web site where you can browse newly digitized photographs, documents and video from that era.
    We encourage you to add your own photos and thoughts to the Web site, thus sharing your family’s personal memory of this event with the world.

  16. I was 12, nearly 13 when the Eagle landed, and spent the whole day that day watching the proceedings on television with my father. He was not a demonstrative man, but he was a space and science fiction geek (guess where I got it from) and when they were safely down on the Moon, he got up and ran around the living room and up and down the hall, shouting “They did it! They did it! They did it!” He had been waiting for that his whole life.
    It was kind of difficult not to be interested in the space program, anyway, since I grew up listening to the booster rockets being tested at the North American (now Rocketdyne, I guess) Santa Susanna facility. I could see the installation up on the mountain from my bedroom window when I was little, and sometimes when they were running a test it sounded like the whole mountain was going to take off. It was even cooler when they did a nighttime test, because the top of the mountain lit up, as well.
    That was always fun when there was a new kid at school. This big rumbling would start, and the new kid would start twitching and freaking out at this huge noise. I guess we were kind of cruel, because sometimes we’d wait awhile and let them freak before explaining what that noise was.

  17. I’ve been hanging out at wechoosethemoon.org for days now. I was wondering if or when you were going to give it a shout out. Neil and Buzz are eating as we speak. Very exciting.
    No, that’s not sarcastic, it really is exciting. You’re right, this is the multimedia experience that we’ve been waiting for. Now I just need to find my Swatch .beat.

  18. I was lucky enough to have known 3 great-grandparents when I was a youngster in the 90′s. It was fascinating to hear how their mode of transportation went from staring at a horse’s ass, to riding in cars. Then I remember them talking about how they watched the moon landing with a group of friends and family, on those huge furniture style TV’s. When they were young ones themselves, the idea of WATCHING MEN LAND ON THE MOON on their TV would have been a laughable notion. As a history nerd, this scenario never ceases to amaze me.

  19. Hmm, Wil you brought back memories of a…wow, my memory is really bad now….um, I think it was Random House book I had when I was growing up. It was called “We Will Go To The Moon.” I think it was written in 1956, or maybe 1950, and probably belonged to my older brothers. I got it as a hand-me-down. Of course, by the time I was born we had already landed on the moon. I enjoyed that book immensely and wanted to be the little kid with his Dad in spacesuits bouncing around on the moon. It was in my library next to “The Cat in the Hat”, “Green Eggs and Ham” and a whole slew of “All about me” books (books custom made with my name and my friends names). Thank you Wil for digging up some fond memories.

  20. I was doing a little research this morning on fans of the space program and came across your blog. I’ve been a fan since “Stand By Me” and I’m pleased to now be enlightened to the Wil Wheaton blogness. I work at the Johnson Space Center in the public affairs office. This year I was blessed with the task of organizing all of our Apollo 11 anniversary events. Last week was amazing. I’m only 33, but I tear up every time I see any of the Apollo vets. Their accomplishments overwhelm me. However, we are faced with the reality that NASA has lost it’s luster. What can we do to get it back? We need a spokesperson, a cheerleader, a person of the people. Wil – are you up to the challenge? =)

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