Los Angeles Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Cultural attractions across LA are celebrating one of humanity's greatest achievements.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the Moon on July 20, 1969. [detail] | Photo by mission commander Neil Armstrong, courtesy of NASA


"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong

On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a journey to the Moon and into history. On board the Command Module Columbia were astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. On July 20, while Collins orbited the Moon in the CM, Armstrong and Aldrin landed Apollo 11’s Lunar Module, Eagle, on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility. Six hours later, as a worldwide audience watched on live TV, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the lunar surface. Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. The astronauts returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space.

The Southern California aerospace industry has a long and vital role in the United States space program, from building the Apollo Command and Service Modules to the creation of the Space Shuttle. Beginning July 13, cultural attractions across Los Angeles are joining the rest of the country to celebrate one of humanity's greatest achievements. Read on for special events in LA that are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the Moon landing.

Buzz Aldrin in the Apollo 11 Lunar Module on July 20, 1969

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin inside the Apollo 11 Lunar Module during the lunar landing mission on July 20, 1969. | Photo by mission commander Neil Armstrong, courtesy of NASA

Columbia Memorial Space Center (July 13-24)

Officially opened in October 2009, the Columbia Memorial Space Center (CMSC) is a 20,000 square-foot museum located in Downey on the site of the former Boeing plant (previously North American Rockwell / North American Aviation) where all of the Apollo Command and Service Modules were built and the Space Shuttle was conceived. The two-story building features a Robotics Lab, High Definition Computer Lab, and a wide range of interactive exhibits that educate visitors about Space Shuttle operations, living and working on the International Space Station, exploration of our solar system, aerospace engineering, and the range of fields of study and jobs related to human and robotic space exploration.

An official partner organization of NASA, the Columbia Memorial Space Center will be celebrating the Apollo 11 50th anniversary with more than a week of special events and activities.

APOLLO 11 EXHIBIT (Opens July 13)
View the newest exhibit about the Apollo 11 program on display at the CMSC. Opening July 13, the exhibit highlights the important contributions that Southern California made to U.S. mission to the Moon. On view through October 2019.

APOLLO SUMMER CAMP (July 15-19 & July 22-26)
Campers ages 9-14 will celebrate the Apollo Moon landing by delving into a full week of Apollo engineering at the Space Center. Registration is now open at the CMSC website.

APOLLO SPEAKER SERIES (Through December 2019)
Former Boeing Project Manager and 40-year aerospace industry veteran Gerald A. Blackburn discusses the Apollo Program, North American Aviation, and experiences in the aerospace industry with a different guest speaker each month.

APOLLO AT THE LAPL
The Space Center will visit various branches of the LA Public Library with Apollo artifacts and host activities tied to the artifacts and the Apollo program. For dates, times and locations, visit the CMSC website.

Saturn V rocket launches on the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969

On July 16, 1969, the 363-foot tall Saturn V rocket launches on the Apollo 11 mission from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, at 9:32 a.m. EDT. | Photo: NASA

APOLLO ANNIVERSARY WEEK
Rocket Launches (Tuesday, July 16) - Join the US Space and Rocket Center in setting the world record for most rockets launched in one day! Rocket launches will take place at the Discovery Sports Complex adjacent to the CMSC.

Lunar Pub Crawl (Thursday, July 18) - Explore some of Downey’s historic watering holes where many of the Apollo engineers frequented after long days. At each stop, you’ll get to meet former engineers and share a pint as they share what it was really like to work on the Apollo program. Locations TBA.

Apollo at San Diego Comic-Con (July 18-21) - The CMSC will collaborate with artist Shag to create an Apollo art exhibit featuring authentic Apollo artifacts.

Apollo 11 spacecraft communicators at Mission Control on July 20, 1969

Spacecraft communicators at Mission Control keep in contact with the Apollo 11 astronauts during their lunar landing mission on July 20, 1969. L to R: astronauts Charles M. Duke Jr., James A. Lovell Jr. and Fred W. Haise Jr. | Photo: NASA

NASA Day (Friday, July 19) - Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission with NASA and the Columbia Memorial Space Center, the official host for Apollo 11 programming in Southern California. NASA will be broadcasting segments from the Space Center on NASA TV and Discovery Science channel. The day will feature hands-on activities, original performances from LA’s Chalk Rep theater company, projects from the CMSC’s Apollo Summer Campers and Girls in STEM Club, historical Apollo artifacts, and chats with Apollo alumni. Admission to the CMSC is FREE!

Apollo 11 Buzz Aldrin salutes the US flag on the Moon

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. | Photo by mission commander Neil Armstrong, courtesy of NASA

Apollo 11 Landing Day (Saturday, July 20) - Celebrate July 20, 1969 in your best 1960s attire at the CMSC. Raytheon hosts Apollo-themed activities throughout the day, enjoy several break-out dramatic performances sprinkled around the CMSC portraying life in the Apollo Program, and watch "LIVE" as Neil Armstrong takes his first "giant leap."

Snap a photo of yourself jumping up, tag #OneGiantLeap, and join thousands across Southern California in commemorating the momentous day on social media. Admission to the CMSC is FREE!

Later that evening, enjoy a special outdoor screening of Apollo 11 in partnership with JPL and the City of Downey.

Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia" Splashdown

The Apollo 11 crew await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet on July 24, 1969. | Photo: NASA

Splashdown Day (Tuesday, July 24) - On July 24, 1969, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins aboard splashed down at 11:49 a.m. CDT about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii. Celebrate the return of the Apollo 11 astronauts on Splashdown Day!

Astronomers Monument at the Griffith Observatory | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Astronomers Monument at the Griffith Observatory

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Griffith Observatory (July 13-24)

The Griffith Observatory is one of LA’s greatest cultural attractions, offering spectacular views from the Pacific Ocean to Downtown LA from its perch on Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park. The Observatory and its accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935. Today, the Griffith Observatory is renowned as a national leader in public astronomy, an iconic film location, and a beloved gathering place for generations of visitors and Angelenos alike.

The Observatory's Apollo 11 celebration features ten days of special programs, exhibits, family activities, and photo opportunities.

GOLDEN MOON FESTIVAL KICKOFF (Saturday, July 13)
Golden Moon Star Party Kickoff - The July Star Party at Griffith Observatory has a special focus on the Moon, which rises at 5:35 p.m. Telescopes will be on the lawn during the entire duration of the kickoff event courtesy of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, Sidewalk Astronomers, and the Planetary Society. Festival kickoff and the start of the FREE Star Party is at 2:00 p.m. on the front lawn.

Apollo 11 Screening - Friends Of The Observatory presents the full-length version of Apollo 11 by CNN Films. This Sundance Award-winning film documents the splendor and emotion of the Apollo 11 mission using newly discovered 70mm film never seen previously. Screenings at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Admission is $15 for FOTO members and $20 for non-members. Proceeds benefit Friends Of The Observatory. Tickets at the FOTO website.

ALL SPACE CONSIDERED REMEMBERS APOLLO 11 (Tuesday, July 16)
The 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 is celebrated with the kickoff of the Stations Of Apollo activity on the front lawn. Shortly after, the team from Griffith Observatory's popular All Space Considered program looks back on the historic mission. Join Observatory Curator Dr. Laura Danly, Astronomical Lecturer Dr. David Reitzel, Planetarium and Theater Manager Patrick So, and Astronomical Observer Anthony Cook for a trip back 50 years. Stations of Apollo starts at 11:45 a.m. "All Space Considered Remembers Apollo 11" is at 1:00 p.m. in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon. Both events are FREE.

Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle in orbit

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle in a landing configuration, photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Module Columbia. Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin are inside the LM. | Photo: NASA

FROM CALIFORNIA TO THE MOON (Wednesday, July 17)
This panel discussion highlights the extraordinary contributions to the engineering and manufacture of Apollo 11 hardware by the Southern California aerospace industry. Through a partnership with Northrop Grumman, the program welcomes special guests Jerry Elverum and Don Harvey, two former TRW engineers who designed the Lunar Descent Engine that made it possible to land astronauts on the Moon. Additional insights are offered by Griffith Observatory astronomical artist Chris Butler and author and journalist, Rod Pyle. Stations of Apollo starts at 11:45 a.m. "From California to the Moon" is at 7:30 p.m. in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon. Both events are FREE.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE MOON (Thursday, July 18)
Griffith Observatory’s Anthony Cook and a guest panel explore the dream of going to the Moon, its fulfillment, its abandonment, and the recommitment to return to the Moon, this time to stay. Why did we stop going? Was it worth the effort? Is there a place for the Moon in our future? The panel, that includes authors Rod Pyle, radio journalist David Livingston, and spacecraft engineer Warren James, describes our next steps to the Moon both by the United States and abroad. Stations of Apollo starts at 11:45 a.m. "The Once and Future Moon" is at 7:30 p.m. in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon. Both events are FREE.

Zeiss Telescope | Photo by Griffith Observatory Astronomical Observer Anthony Cook, © Griffith Observatory

Zeiss Telescope | Photo by Griffith Observatory Astronomical Observer Anthony Cook, © Griffith Observatory

APOLLO 11 SCREENING & ROOFTOP MOON PARTY (Friday, July 19)
Griffith Observatory’s membership and support partner, Friends Of The Observatory hosts a special screening of CNN Films Apollo 11 followed by an after-hours party on the roof of the Observatory. Moonrise at 10:09 pm sets the stage for the event - members can mingle, enjoy refreshments, and look at the Moon through the Observatory’s historic Zeiss telescope. Stations of Apollo is FREE and starts at 11:45 a.m. Film screening and after-party starts at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $50 for FOTO members and $75 for non-members. Tickets at the FOTO website.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin's bootprint in the lunar soil

Close-up of astronaut Buzz Aldrin's bootprint in the lunar soil, photographed during Apollo 11's sojourn on the moon. | Photo: NASA

TO WALK ON THE MOON: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE (Saturday, July 20)
Fifty years ago on this date, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history when they stepped out of the Lunar Module and walked on the Moon. A day-long program of presentations, activities, and celebrations honor one of humankind's greatest achievements. Taking place in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon, talks throughout the day include "A Look Back at Apollo 11," "The Mysteries of the Moon," "Man on the Moon: Hoax or No Hoax?", "Artemis and the Return to the Moon," and "Our Future on the Moon." Stations of Apollo starts at 9:45 a.m. "To Walk on the Moon" program starts at 11:00 a.m. Both events are FREE.

MOON RUSH: THE NEW SPACE RACE (Sunday, July 21)
Veteran space journalist Leonard David returns to Griffith Observatory to tell the story of the path for our return to the Moon. This time, however, it’s not just NASA that’s going. Nations from all over the world and private industry have big plans. David shares highlights from his new book, Moon Rush. A book signing follows the talk. Stations of Apollo starts at 9:45 a.m. "Moon Rush" starts at 7:30 p.m. Both events are FREE.

INTO THE BLUE (Monday, July 22)
The Space Age provides a new vocabulary for what was once the wild blue yonder and transcendental territory of celestial gods. The Apollo astronauts acquired a distinctive epiphany none have shared since the last Apollo mission. From antiquity to the Sea of Tranquility, Griffith Observatory Director Dr. E. C. Krupp shares the story of the path to that perspective. This presentation is part of the Friends Of The Observatory Cosmic Musings lecture series. Stations of Apollo is FREE and starts at 11:45 a.m. "Into the Blue" starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10 for FOTO members and $25 for non-members. Tickets at the FOTO website.

ALL SPACE CONSIDERED REMEMBERS APOLLO 11 (Wednesday, July 24)
To conclude the Golden Moon Festival, the All Space Considered team returns to recap the monumental history of the Apollo 11 mission and look back at highlights from the Golden Moon Festival. Stations of Apollo starts at 11:45 a.m. "All Space Considered Remembers Apollo 11" starts at 7:30 p.m. Both events are FREE.

California Science Center (July 20)

Located at Exposition Park in Downtown LA, the acclaimed California Science Center spans 400,000 square feet and includes four major exhibit areas, the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and an educationally focused IMAX Theatre.

The Science Center will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and Moon landing with an all-day celebration featuring hands-on activities and screenings of the film Apollo 11: First Steps Edition.

This FREE celebration will feature:

  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) with a custom portable planetarium for a live, interactive, immersive presentation about space science
  • A team from University of Southern California (USC) with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system featuring an Apollo 15 astronaut. Guests can ask questions and hear answers from an interactive video of Command Module Pilot Al Worden and help “train” the system and improve the AI algorithm.
  • Meteorite Exploration: What’s the difference between a meteorite and the rocks in your backyard? Take a closer look to find out!
  • Exploring Craters: make a “crater” then learn how to study it like a scientist.
  • Big Sun, Little Moon: In space, distance makes BIG things look pretty small. Experiment with distance to see if you can make a BIG thing hide behind something tiny.
  • Orbiting Objects: Earth isn’t the only object in space with gravity. Explore how every object in space pulls on every other object in space.
  • Objects in Motion: Gravity of objects in space can tell scientists a lot about what we can and cannot see as scientists explore look for exoplanets.
  • Land the Apollo Lunar Module: Take the controls as you approach Tranquility Base aboard the Eagle. Do you have what it takes to land?

APOLLO 11: FIRST STEPS EDITION
Don't miss Apollo 11: First Steps Edition on the museum's seven-story screen in IMAX with Laser! Experience the exhilarating final moments of preparation, liftoff, landing and return of this historic mission—one of humanity’s greatest achievements and the first to put men on the Moon. Screenings at 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm and 5pm. Tickets on sale at the California Science Center website.

Dodgers vs Marlins - Dodger Stadium (July 20)

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, former NASA astronaut and International Space Station commander, Col. Terry Virts will throw out the first pitch when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Florida Marlins at Dodger Stadium. Virts will also present a check to Folds of Honor on behalf of Budweiser and the Dodgers. Fernando Valenzuela will be inducted into the Legends of Dodger Baseball in a pregame ceremony.

On Tuesday, July 16, Virts and a crew will attempt to break the world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth via both poles, in a Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER ultra long-range business jet. The One More Orbit mission will take off from Cape Canaveral at 9:32 a.m. EDT — the same time and place that Apollo 11 launched 50 years ago. The record attempt will be livestreamed as well as featured in a documentary with Virts making his directorial debut.

Hollywood Bowl at Twilight

Hollywood Bowl at Twilight

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

America in Space - Hollywood Bowl (August 15)

On Thursday, August 15, the Hollywood Bowl hosts America in Space, featuring the LA Phil conducted by David Newman. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, film clips will be brought to life with music performed by the LA Phil that will take us back to relive that awe-inspiring and unbelievable time in history.

The Paley Center for Media (July 20-21)

Eight years after President John F. Kennedy committed the country to the goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the decade, NASA fulfilled that mission on July 20, 1969 with more than half a billion people watching live around the world. On Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21, The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills honors this historic achievement by screening the first hour of the Moon walk, along with two documentaries and a scripted program that illuminate the enduring legacy of our first journey to the Moon. Screenings are FREE and tickets are available on a first come, first served basis. No advance ticketing.

"Apollo 11" - UCLA (July 19)

On Friday, July 19, UCLA is screening the 2019 documentary film Apollo 11 at Young Hall CS50 auditorium followed by a Q&A with planetary science and space exploration experts. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 98% Tomatometer rating and a 90% Audience Score: "Edifying and inspiring in equal measure, Apollo 11 uses artfully repurposed archival footage to send audiences soaring back to a pivotal time in American history."

Panelists include:

  • William F. Ballhaus Jr., former Director of the NASA Ames Research Center and former President and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation.
  • Professor Edward D. Young, a geochemist and cosmochemist in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at UCLA.

Reception at 6pm and screening at 7pm. This event is presented by UCLA's Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, whose mission is to understand and protect our home in the universe. Free admission, RSVP at Eventbrite.

Students enter the Jet Propulsion Laboratory GeoDome

Students enter the Jet Propulsion Laboratory GeoDome | Photo: Glendale Library, Arts & Culture, Facebook

JPL GeoDome - Glendale Central Library (July 16)

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969, the Glendale Central Library welcomes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory GeoDome (inflatable planetarium) to present a live, interactive, and immersive experience for the public to enjoy. Learn about Apollo 11 to explore the past, present, and future of human space exploration, navigating back to the Moon, the next "giant leap" to Mars, and beyond. Families are welcome - ages 4 and up are recommended. Seating is on the floor of the inflatable dome, but the dome is wheelchair accessible and the library will have a limited number of chairs for those in need.

This is a free event, but you must register at Eventbrite. If you miss your Eventbrite time when the session starts, your space will be offered to another family or person waiting in line.

"Apollo 11: The Immersive Live Show" - Rose Bowl Stadium (Through August 11)

Apollo 11: The Immersive Live Show is a ground-breaking new show with an original story performed by a full cast and presented in the spectacular Lunar Dome. Featuring 40,000 square feet of 360° video projections, full orchestral score and life-size rockets, this truly immersive experience takes the audience from the thrill of the countdown to the enormous Saturn V rocket launch and an unforgettable journey to the Moon. The world premiere of Apollo 11: The Immersive Live Show took place on July 5 at Rose Bowl Stadium, where performances will run through August 11. Info and tickets at the Apollo 11 website.