ARCO — Craters of the Moon staff and partner organizations will host a special event Saturday, July 20th celebrating the 50th anniversary of first NASA landing on the lunar service –- only the “lunar surface” for the celebration will be right here in Idaho at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve near Arco.
Activities that day will include presentations by NASA astronaut John Phillips, various youth-centered activities, and opportunities to view the lunar surface through a telescope.
The “Moonfest” events will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Robert Limbert Visitor Center -- and from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Lava Flow Campground Amphitheater.
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface. About a month later, on August 22, several astronauts associated with the Apollo 14 mission visited the Craters of the Moon National Monument in preparation for their 1971 lunar mission. Astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, Joe Engle, and Eugene Cernan visited Craters of the Moon to learn the basics of volcanic geology. Since only a limited amount of rock samples could be returned to Earth, it was important that they were able to identify the most scientifically-valuable specimens.
Craters of the Moon continues to be an important venue for space science research. NASA scientists recently concluded two research efforts in which they utilized the lava landscape as a stand-in for Mars -- to test remote sensing, communication methods and other scientific research.
NASA scientist Darlene Lim said, “Craters of the Moon National Monument has been a part of NASA’s research and exploration efforts since the Apollo missions -- and what’s so exciting is that this incredible environment is as relevant and scientifically important today as it was fifty years ago.”
The public is invited a slew of events on Saturday, July 20:
Robert Limbert Visitor Center theater: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(There is limited seating available in the theater. Sign-up sheets for the various events will be available at the visitor center information desk beginning at 8 a.m.)
-9:30 a.m.: Presentation and book signing by “Moonscape” author Julie Weston. “Moonscape” is the latest in a historic-mystery novel series set in central Idaho.
-11 a.m.: Presentation and book signing by “The Flows” author Roger Boe. This new book explores the hidden wonders of Craters of the Moon through the poetry of Will Peterson and Roger Boe’s photography.
-1 p.m.: Presentation of PBS American Experience film “Chasing the Moon” about the Apollo 11 moon landing, and a short presentation about the astronauts in Idaho, which is part of the “Idaho Experience” series.
-3 p.m.: Presentation by astronaut John Phillips detailing his experiences on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.
-5 p.m.: STEM activities for youth, led by retired Park Ranger/NASA educator, Donald Scott (Visitor Center Patio)
Solar viewing on the visitor center patio throughout the day.
Lava Flow Campground amphitheater: 8 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
(Parking for these events will only be available in the visitor center or North Crater Flow parking lots. Both locations are about a quarter-mile walk to the amphitheater. People with accessibility needs may be shuttled to the amphitheater sidewalk.)
-8 p.m.: Kids can earn a “Lunar Ranger” badge by participating in fun Ranger-led activities.
-8:30-9:15 p.m.: Enjoy the other-worldly music of Boise band Mageñtto
-9:30 p.m.: Presentation by astronaut John Phillips detailing his experiences on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.
-10:30 p.m.: View the lunar surface through a telescope with the Astro-Ranger Molly.
Youth from across the state will be participating in this event through the efforts of the Idaho Out-of-School Network with a grant from the Idaho Space Grant Consortium. ION helps ensure Idaho’s youth have access to safe, active and quality learning experiences in out-of-school time. ISGC provides programs that focus on current and ongoing NASA initiatives.
Additional support for this event has been provided by the Craters of the Moon Natural History Association, which assists the National Park Service with interpretive, educational, and scientific activities at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.