We’re skipping our regular Mews and Nips feature this week because we feel that today is a pretty momentous day: the 50th anniversary of the first man walking on the moon. What does this have to do with cats? Absolutely nothing. Or does it? It appears that my two intrepid explorers think that maybe it should have!

Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon’s surface was an existential moment, experienced by a global television audience of 600 million people. If you were one of them, you will always remember where you were at that moment in history. It was both a collective celebration of arguably one of humanity’s greatest achievements, and a contemplation of the vastness of the universe and our place in it. And perhaps, the universe just got a little bit smaller that day.

The moon landing took place at 20:17 UTC. As a young child in Germany, that was way past my bedtime. I remember being fascinated with the idea of space travel, and everything surrounding the Apollo missions. I even had a scrap book where I collected newspaper and magazine articles about anything related to space.

On July 20, 1969, I remember my parents waking me up. We didn’t even have a television set at the time, so we went to the neighbors’ apartment across the hall. They had a small, black and white TV set. That in itself was pretty cool: visiting the neighbors, in my jammies, in the middle of the night! I only have a vague memory of watching the actual landing, and Neil Armstrong’s first step, but I have a vivid memory of the adults in the room being super excited, and of someone bursting into tears.

It’s probably hard for people born after 1969, or those who were too young then to remember, to appreciate just how momentous this event was. Keep in mind that this was before the days of computers, cell phones and a TV in every home, so people gathered with friends and neighbors, like we did, or in public places, to experience the moment. It was a moment of shared wonder, and I don’t think there has been anything like it since.

It  was a moment that reminded humanity that we are a single species in an awe-inspiring universe.

How Allegra and Ruby think the moon landing should have happened…

Many years later, in 1982, two years before I moved to the Washington, DC area, I visited the Apollo 11 exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. I was awestruck at seeing the actual Apollo 11 capsule, and all the artifacts from the mission.

Today, I find myself reflecting not just on what this moment might have meant for humanity, but I also find myself looking back to that little girl who was fascinated by space flight. Perhaps, it’s time to find a way to recapture her sense of awe and wonder.

Do you remember the moon landing? Share your memories in a comment.

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23 Comments on The 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

  1. This post is delightful. I really smiled at the picture of your AstroCats.
    Actually, I laughed out loud with joy, which is something I rarely do.

    I had graduated from high school in June 1969, and remember that entire period from 1968 to 1969 in particular, as very turbulent times.
    I watched civil rights protests, prison riots, the moon landing, the Vietnam War, and Woodstock coverage with my beloved, late father, in our living room, on our console television. (My mom had passed away in 1965, and my sister had married and moved out in 1968).
    The landing on the moon was breathtaking. We were so proud of our country watching that.
    We lived in the metropolitan Boston area, so visiting the Boston Museum of Science was an annual school trip, and my Dad took the family there every summer as well. The visit later on with him to see the moon rocks is another fond memory.
    My father subscribed to Popular Science magazine, and so I grew up reading that alongside my mother’s Ladies Home Journal and my sister’s Redbook.
    I earned my PhD in 1982, and have participated in a followup study ever since. Women who earn PhD’s are one in a million, and the single, common variable among us is a strong, father/father figure who encouraged us.
    So thanks to all the fathers and mothers, as I know my mother, had she lived, would have been just as positive an influence, for teaching us to include science in our lives.
    And thanks, Ingrid, for this wonderful post and invitation to share our memories.
    PS My father did not let me go to Woodstock, and everyone I knew who went got arrested. So, further proof of the wisdom of my father. LOL.

  2. I remember being glued to the tv with my parents. We were about to move, and had our boat advertised for sale. Someone called to ask about it right around the time that the spacecraft landed. We couldn’t believe that someone was more interested in a boat that in this historic event. I had a chance to see the moon through a telescope last week (along with Jupiter and her moons). What a powerful experience the moon landing is, and even just taking time to look up into space. What a beautiful world this is.
    (I love the astrocats!)

  3. Who are these two gorgeous ’Astrocats’? “They look very familiar.” ‘No, could they actually be Ruby and Allegra from ‘Conscious Cat’, but how could they’ve landed on the moon.’ “I guess anything is possible with cats, yea!”

  4. The memory will always hold a special place in my heart. I was 4 1/2 yrs old and I remember watching it with my mom and dad on a black and white tv. My dad was still alive then and it was such a happy moment for us all.

  5. I wasn’t even 2 yet, but love reading about space and following it. The UDVAR HAZY space center is not far from where I used to live and my parents still do. I remember where I was when that one Space Shuttle blew up too.

  6. Thank you for the article. I’m sure next time we go to the moon, we won’t forget to take cats with us.

  7. I enjoyed today’s post, especially Ruby and Allegra on the moon. I remember watching the landing too. My grandparents made me watch it. I was pretty young though and didn’t really understand the significance of it back then.

  8. What great memories, Ingrid, and so beautifully written. The moonlanding dominated the summer of 1969, but it was such a both exciting and turbulent time: the Vietnam War, the Manson murders, Easy Rider, Woodstock, and, and, and. It was a hot summer. I was also living in Germany then, a teenager pregnant with her first baby and about to move to Amerika! My own gift from heaven is turning 50 in a few weeks and I think I’ll have his tiny blue newborn pyjama pants with the astronauts and the space craft on them framed for the occasion 🙂

  9. Like Julie, I remember watching this with my very excited dad, who passed away two years later. He was born in 1900, so he had seen so many technological developments and was awed by the moon landing.

    Also, this is my all-time favorite Photoshop of Ruby and Allegra. Or . . . . is it real?!!
    One of the great mysteries of our universe!

  10. Hi, Ingrid! This was one of my last major memories I shared with my Daddy before he died. I was only 6 yrs old, but Daddy was really excited when we waited for it and watched it on our little TV. AT the time, I didn’t understand how momentous it was… I just remembered it was something he was excited about to share with me. (He died about a year later…) Remembering this means remembering my Daddy.

    • How lovely that this is bringing back memories of your dad for you, Julie. I’m sorry you lost him at such a young age, that must have been very hard.

      • Thank you, Ingrid for your kind words! While it was hard, such a milestone reminds me of a happier, simpler time with him. I am glad that I shared something special with him… and for some reason, this memory is the strongest that have of him. Of course, thanks to him, I keep my life filled with kitties! 🙂

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