While we commemorate the first lunar landing fifty years ago, consider the view from Earth, too. In the United States and around the world, people were gazing skyward at the waxing crescent moon, imagining what was happening a quarter of a million miles away. You can revisit that moon-gazing experience when earthbound observing circumstances are comparable in 2019 on June 8 and July 7.
The astronauts landed on the moon at 4:17 p.m. EDT; at 10:56 p.m. EDT Neil Armstrong took that first step, with Buzz Aldrin following him 19 minutes later. From earth the moon that night was illuminated 35% in the southwest sky. Here, all necks were gently craned.
1969 July 20
Lunar circumstances, 1969 July 20, 10 pm EDT
2019 June 8
I encourage you to go outside on Saturday, June 8, give or take a day, and look anew at the moon. It again appears similar to what it did that triumphant night. Maybe get out an old telescope or pair of binoculars, too. What might you have imagined 50 years ago? What do you imagine about space travel today? While you're outside, look for brilliant Jupiter rising in the southeast.
Lunar circumstances, 2019 June 8, 10 pm EDT
2019 July 7
On Sunday, July 7, the situation repeats. As a bonus, around 10:00 p.m. Saturn is not far behind Jupiter in rising. These two planets will continue to be highlights in the night sky throughout the second half of 2019.
Lunar circumstances, 2019 July 7, 10 pm EDT
Take your personal re-enactment a bit further and watch Walter Cronkite's newscast of the landing and first walk. If you're wondering what's being said between the lunar lander and Houston Control, an excellent captioned version of the Apollo flight journal is at https://youtu.be/RONIax0_1ec. It's worth 15 minutes of your time to get a small sense of the giant accomplishment.