Edmontonians mark 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing

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Moon landing celebration
WATCH ABOVE: Edmontonians of different ages and backgrounds commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The special occasion is prompting people to think about the future of space exploration and what their roles could be. Julia Wong reports – Jul 20, 2019

Some Edmontonians celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing at a perhaps obvious place: the science centre.

People of all ages and backgrounds made their way Saturday through the Telus World of Science (TWOSE), which held several space-related activities, such as making models of lunar landers and a rocket launch at 2:17 p.m., the same time in 1969 that the first steps were taken on the moon.

The Space Gallery was well-attended on Saturday, July 20, 2019. Julia Wong/Global News

Frank Florian, TWOSE director of the planetarium and space sciences, said he was feeling “pretty excited” about the special anniversary.

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“Little kids out there… it’s ancient history to them,” he said.

“Doing an event like this, promoting this 50th anniversary, is a great way for them to understand it wasn’t that long ago that we actually took that first small step on the moon.”

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Florian himself was four years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their way out of the lunar module and took humankind’s first steps on another surface in the solar system. He remembers one particular moment with his dad on July 20, 1969.

“He actually took me outside and showed me the moon. [He] pointed up there and said, ‘There’s two people walking out there,’” he said.

Florian credits that moon landing with charting the course of his future, including the fact he wanted rockets – and not chuckwagons or stagecoaches – on his birthday cakes.

“Ever since that time, I’ve always wanted to learn more about astronomy and what the moon was like,” Florian said. “It helped me actually choose my career into going into astronomy. I think these events, like this Apollo 11 anniversary, is a way to engage younger individuals again, saying some day soon they might be the next person on the moon or onto Mars.”

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READ MORE: Family of Canadian scientist remembers his critical role in Apollo 11 moon mission

Watch below: Some videos about the Apollo 11 moon landing.

That interest may have been piqued by a display of rocket launches Saturday afternoon in front of the TWOSE building. The event was done in co-ordination with the Edmonton Rocketry Club.

Dozens of families came out to watch seven smaller model Saturn V rockets launch into the sky before three larger model rockets.

Eleven-year-old Jack Hopkinson said he was excited about the anniversary of the historic event.

“It was the first time people ever landed on the moon,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”

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Hopkinson, who said he may want to work in the space industry one day, said he would like to see humans return to the moon.

Chelsea Robson and her son visit the TWOSE at least twice a month. The Wetaskiwin woman said the anniversary is important to remember.

“It marks something really special that happened many years ago – a big event that no one ever thought would happen, but it did,” she said.

The TWOSE observatory is open until 2 a.m. Sunday so people can use the telescopes there to see the moon’s surface. Admission is free.

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