Hardin Planetarium to host celebration in honor of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – July 16, 1969, is a historic day in American history, but also the history of civilization.

Fifty years ago, NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission, sending astronauts to the moon, a landmark day for space exploration.

“First time we actually left this world and landed on another world,” said Ronn Kistler, coordinator at the Western Kentucky University Hardin Planetarium. “The only time in fact during that little period of time when the Apollo missions landed.”

Four days later, man would eventually take those first steps on the moon, meaning the United States had beaten Russia in the space race, but it also led to new changes back down on Earth.

“A lot of the things we developed to engage in the space race and space exploration eventually filtered down to the public in the way of products and services that we use today and don’t even think about,” added Kistler.

For many people, including Kistler, they can tell you exactly where they were and how they felt when they watched this historic accomplishment take place a half century ago.

“Just watching that moment was pretty dog-gone exciting,” he said. “It was just like, ‘wow,’ can you believe this is actually happening?”

It did finally happen.

After years of space exploration, it had turned into a reality, and a special moment for all involved with the momentous event.

“For the first time, we were not limited to this world,” Kistler said. “We could actually leave it and go somewhere else.”

In the 50 years since that launch, NASA has accomplished a lot, which makes it exciting to think where they’ll be able to send astronauts in another 50 years from now.

One thing’s for sure though – the fascination with space exploration isn’t likely to go away any time soon.

“There’s a driving desire within us to find out who we are and how we fit and what the world around us is about,” said Kistler.

To celebrate and honor the accomplishment of the Apollo 11 mission, Hardin Planetarium will be hosting a special, day-long “Moon Landing Celebration” beginning at 1 p.m. July 20.

The event will feature movie screenings, hands-on exhibits and activities for people of all ages to enjoy.

The celebration is free to the public, and free parking will be available as well.