Celebrate anniversary of ‘giant leap’

Published 9:53 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

Editor’s note: The location for this event has changed due to weather concerns. This event will now be held from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at the North Suffolk Library, 2000 Bennetts Creek Park Road.

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the first humans landing on the moon as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 lunar mission.

At 4:17 p.m. EST on July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed in the Sea of Tranquility. The Suffolk News-Herald published an Associated Press report that delivered Armstrong’s — and mankind’s — first words from the moon’s surface.

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“Houston,” Armstrong radioed, “Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Armstrong was the first to climb through the hatch and carefully moved down the nine-rung ladder. On the second rung from the bottom, he opened a compartment on Eagle’s side and activated a television camera.

The camera gave hundreds of millions of people around the world a “ringside seat to man’s greatest adventure,” according to the 50-year-old news report.

“The picture was black and white and somewhat jerky, but it recorded history,” the report read.

Armstrong planted his boot on the powdery surface at 10:56 p.m. and spoke words that echo to this day and for all time: “that’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Another AP report published in the Suffolk News-Herald described the two astronaut’s first cautious steps on the moon, “like prudent boys testing the first ice of winter on a country pond.”

“As they acquired confidence, they walked faster, now with a slow bounce in the one-sixth gravity of the moon,” the report read. “And then they ran and their stride was longer than on earth and their shoes seemed suspended off the strange lunar surface, with something of the floating quality of figures on slow motion film.”

The earth was above them, “bright and beautiful,” as they moved across the soundless, airless, and mostly colorless lunar surface. The curving horizon gave way to “the blackness of space and infinity.”

“The foreground was starkly lighted by the sun and the men and their vehicle cast long shadows. It was dawn on the moon and a dawn in the history of man,” the report read.

Families can reflect on this historic leap at the Suffolk Public Library’s celebration on Tuesday.

Library staff will hold this “Moon Landing Celebration” on Tuesday from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at the North Suffolk Library, 2000 Bennetts Creek Park Road. This event will be held outside of the library free of charge and open to the public, with no library membership required.

Telescopes for both children and adults will be available for stargazing. Participants will also explore the sky using the “Star Walk” app on provided iPad devices.

There will be arts and crafts for children to make their own jet packs with cereal boxes and soda bottles. Families will take inter-stellar photos in front of a green screen and enjoy relay races and other fun games.

They’ll even have the whole universe in their hand with the Merge Cube, a STEM learning tool that works with cell phone apps and augmented reality devices.

“It’s a celebration of space and exploring space,” said Elementary Services Senior Librarian Deborah Ward.

It’s also a celebration for the role the United States played in space exploration, and how Virginia was home to that progress at the Langley Research Center, one of NASA’s oldest field centers.

“The people of Suffolk deserve a celebration for being part of an awesome country where we lead by example, and where we discover out-of-this-world things,” Youth and Family Services Coordinator Shauntae Holloway said.

Visit suffolkpubliclibrary.com for more information.