Thursday, July 20, 2017

Preserving lunar landing sites for National Moon Day

I ended Tipsy Bartender recipes for National Daiquiri Day 2017 by telling my readers "Stay tuned for a holiday I should have been celebrating at this blog all along, National Moon Day.
"National Moon Day is observed annually on July 20 and commemorates the day man first walked on the moon in 1969.   NASA reported the moon landing as being “…the single greatest technological achievement of all time.”

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first humans, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon.  Armstrong stepped first onto the lunar surface, six hours after landing and spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft.  Aldrin spent slightly less time but together they collected 47.5 pounds of lunar material to bring back to Earth.  Michael Collins piloted Apollo 11 and remained alone in orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned.

Watched by millions, the event was broadcast on live TV to a world-wide audience and all witnessed as Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and described the event as “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
In 1971, President Richard Nixon proclaimed National Moon Landing Day on July 20 to commemorate the anniversary of man’s first moon landing.

With no continuing proclamation to follow, Richard Christmas took up the baton and began a “Chrismas Card” writing campaign. A former gas station attendant, the Michigan native wrote to governors, congressmen and senators in all 50 states urging them to create National Moon Day. By July of 1975, 12 states had sponsored bills observing Moon Day.

James J. Mullaney, former Curator of Exhibits and Astronomy at Pittsburgh’s original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Staff Astronomer at the Allegheny Observatory, is a modern day supporter of a National Moon Day.  He says, “If there’s a Columbus Day on the calendar, there certainly should be a Moon Day!”  Mr. Mullaney has been working toward making National Moon Day an official Federal holiday.
Making Moon Day an official holiday is a quirky cause I could get behind.  Speaking of quirky causes, USA Today reported the day before yesterday Professor says that Apollo 11 moon-landing site should be named a National Historic Landmark.
A former professor is proposing that the Apollo 11 landing site at Tranquility Base, where humans first stepped foot on the moon, should be named a National Historic Landmark.

The academic, Beth O’Leary, an emerita professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University, is also pushing for other lunar-landing sites to be preserved for posterity.
Her recent book, The Final Mission: Preserving NASA’s Apollo Sites, written with Milford Wayne Donaldson, chairman of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Lisa Westwood, a lecturer in California State University-Chico’s Anthropology Department, looks at the exploration of space from an archaeological and historical-preservation perspective, according to report in the Las Cruces Sun-News. It also details how various sites in New Mexico, Texas, California and Florida contributed to the successful Apollo missions.
KRWG News interviewed her about her book in In Focus #10 040417 Beth O'Leary.

I'm behind her quirky cause, too, although I wonder about the legalities of designating Tranquility Base a National Historic Landmark.  After all, the United States does not own the Moon.  That prevents the location from being a World Heritage Site, which is what I think it really should be, as countries can only submit candidates from within their own borders.  Not being part of the U.S. hasn't stopped either California or New Mexico from placing the landing site on their heritage registers, something O'Leary mentioned in her video.  May law catch up to reality so that either the U.S. or the U.N. can recognize the site, which it deserves.


  1. That prevents the location from being a World Heritage Site, which is what I think it really should be, as countries can only submit candidates from within their own borders.

    Interesting problem. Presumably this also prevents sites in Antarctica or international waters from being so designated (though I can't think of any obvious candidates). I suppose it might also be objected that a world heritage site should be located on this world.

    Still, the historic importance of Tranquility Base will always be generally recognized whether it's officially granted special status or not.

    1. In international waters? A naval battle or maritime disaster with shipwrecks on the bottom, such as the wreck of the Titanic might be candidates. As for Antarctica, maybe the South Pole itself. Still, none as important as Tranquility Base.