Today, July 20th is a holiday, though it may be one that you’re unfamiliar with. This is Moon Day, and it’s been declared to celebrate the anniversary of Earth’s first successful manned mission to the moon.
Although most of us know that the first moon landing occurred in 1969, what you might not be aware of is that the mission, Apollo 11, was not the first craft to successfully reach the moon. Almost a decade earlier, in early October of 1959, unmanned Soviet mission Luna 2 escaped Earth's orbit and performed the first ever lunar flyby, snapping our very first photos of the moon taken from space. Later in 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins manned the Apollo 11, and Aldrin and Armstrong took mankind’s first steps onto the lunar surface.
The Apollo program was begun by NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in 1961, at the urging of then president John F. Kennedy. Apollo 11 was only the fifth successful manned mission into space, with previous missions comprised primarily of being sent into orbit or performing flybys. Of the next six manned Apollo missions, all but one landed on the lunar surface, each with two moonwalkers and one command module pilot for a total of only a dozen persons who have walked on the moon. The Apollo program officially ended in 1972.
One of the funnest ways to celebrate this little known holiday is with cosmic and moon related clothing, jewelry, and paraphernalia. The moon may seem like a faraway dream, a mysterious fixture in the background of human life, but to twelve astronauts, it’s the coolest place we’ve ever been.