Men watch the Apollo 11 launch on TVs for sale at a Sears in White Plains, New York, on July 16, 1969. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)

Five-day event at Centre of the Universe in Saanich marks 50th anniversary of moon landing

Celebrate lunar exploration and the 1960s at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

The 50th anniversary of the lunar landing is coming up and the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) in Saanich is the site of a free celebration from July 16 to 20.

The Friends of the DAO, a local charitable organization that supports outreach at the observatory, is hosting the five-day party to mark the Apollo 11’s take off on July 16, 1969 and it’s moon landing on July 20.

“This is an anniversary that people have been waiting for,” says Ben Dorman, Chair of the Friends of the DOA. “Those of us who were there can’t believe it was 50 years ago.”

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The party at the observatory will include daytime activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from July 16 to 19. There will also be evening presentations beginning at 7 p.m. from July 16 to 18 and July 20.

During the day, guests will be able to take self-guided tours through the gallery, enjoy Apollo 11 themed Planetarium shows and embark on guided tours of the Plaskett Telescope. Children can also take part in crafts.

At night, the Apollo-themed presentations will begin in the Black Hole Auditorium. The topics include Canada’s role in the moon landing and the other voyages of the Apollo.

On July 20, there will be a special Star Party — which the DAO hosts every Saturday in the summer — to celebrate the moon landing. The Star Party will begin at 6 p.m. and wind down at 11 p.m. Chris Gainor, a space historian, will lead a viewing of the first moon-walk at 8 p.m., just as it was in 1969.

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Dorman remembers watching the moon landing on T.V. in London when he was a little boy. The moon-walk, however, aired long past his bedtime so he had to watch the re-cap the next morning.

Gainor, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, will then discuss other aspects related to the moon-landing including the science behind the feat and it’s cultural significance, says Dorman, who still has newspaper clippings related to the event from 1969.

Free tickets for the event are already available online and Dorman recommends coming on all five days as each will be different.

To learn more about the event, check out the Centre of the Universe website.


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NASA will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission with a two-hour broadcast on July 19. (Photo courtesy NASA)

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