Photo: Lena Sjöberg


50 years since the moon landing

On 21 July 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong took his now famous first steps onto the lunar surface.

An estimated 600 million people watched the live broadcast of the moon landing, the largest ever television audience at the time. The original footage of the landing no longer exists – it’s thought the tapes were recorded over in the 1980s by accident.

The surface of the moon experiences large swings in temperature – from 127°C in the day to as low as minus 190°C at night. It is 4.6 billion years old and it’s thought to have formed 30 to 50 million years after the solar system was formed. 

The moon is tidally locked to, and in synchronous rotation with, the Earth, meaning that the same side always faces us. One day on the Moon (one full rotation) lasts about four Earth weeks. The moon is, on average, 384,403km from Earth but the moon moves about 3.8cm farther away from the Earth each year.

The astronauts famously left behind a planted American flag. Less known is that they left quite a bit of rubbish, too, including moon boots and air sickness bags. The Soviets made it to the moon ten years earlier, in 1959, albeit with an unmanned spacecraft.

The famous phrase “The Eagle has landed” comes from the crew of Apollo 11, who sent that message back to Earth after successfully completing the moon landing.

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