TUCSON, Ariz. -- Celebrations are underway at Flandrau as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing gets closer. The historic moment happened July 20, 1969.
The University of Arizona played a role in the "space race" with the Soviet Union that started in the 1950's when the country launched Sputnik I.
That sparked the United States to enter the "space race," and want to travel beyond the Earth's atmosphere. The launch also led to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958.
Planetarium Director Michael Magee says federal funding allowed the Planetarium to be built at UA, which led to researching the moon and other planets by using telescopes around Tucson. According to Flandrau's website, the Planetarium was designed by a firm in Tucson and opened in 1975.
That paved the way for researchers to make photographic atlases of the moon that helped NASA figure out where to land during the Apollo 11 mission. According to NASA, Gerard Kuiper predicted what the surface of the Moon would be like to walk on. While working at the Planetarium at UA, he described it would be like walking on "crunchy snow." That was verified by astronaut Neil Armstrong in 1969.
"The field of Planetary Sciences began here at the University. Gerard Kuiper became known as the "Father of Planetary Sciences", all associated with the university of Arizona," said Magee.
To honor the historic moment, Flandrau is celebrating with "Moon Fest" that kicked off June 30th and will run until November.
On Saturday, July 13, there will be a kick-off to a week-long event with "Hello Moon Night." It will be held at Flandrau.
Kick off Moon Landing Week with our Hello Moon Night! Featuring special presentations, free telescope viewing on the UA Mall by TAAA, $5 shows and $5 admission. Saturday, July 13th! Don't miss out! #moon #moonfest #uarizona #science #stem #space #spaceiswildcatcountry @uarizona pic.twitter.com/5yb70XEhuH— UA Flandrau (@UAFlandrau) July 11, 2019
There will be special exhibits and events through the week, including discount prices to the Planetarium. You can find a complete list here.