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47th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 21:16:12-04

47 years ago to this date -- the Apollo 11 mission put the first human on the moon. July 20, 1969, is an important date in American history, but also a big day for Tucson as well.

Why? That mission was largely possible because of research done right here in Tucson, according to Kitt Peak Visitor Center Manager Bill Buckingham.

"One of the roles we played was, to in a sense, give them a roadmap to their destination," he said. "Which was the Earth's moon."
 
Buckingham added that because of the climate and landscape, Tucson is one of the best places in the world for astronomy.
 
"We have lots of sunny days which means we have many many clear nights, 300 or so every year," Buckingham said. "We have the climate, we have the low humidity, we have the mountain tops to position telescopes on and make for good, stable viewing conditions."
 
As for the Apollo 11 mission, he explained the kind of research that came from multiple Tucson institutions. 
 
"Studying the lunar surface, documenting or photographing it," Buckingham said. "Producing maps, training the astronauts to be familiar with their landing sites and how to navigate their way around on the surface of the moon."
 
Less than a year ago, the Flandrau Planetarium opened an exhibit called "From Tucson to the Moon." Executive Director Kellee Campbell explained the University takes pride in it's involvement with the lunar landing, and it was time to showcase it.
 
"We really wanted to showcase the University of Arizona's role in the Space Race -- particularly to the Moon," Campbell said. "The University of Arizona played a huge part in that and, it's one that we're really proud of. And probably, we wouldn't be where we are today, had it not been for the contributions of the University of Arizona."
 
If you'd like to learn more about Tucson's involvement with the Apollo 11 mission and other space missions, the planetarium is open every day until 5 p.m.