ROCKLAND — July 20, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. In honor of this event, the Rockland Public Library will screen a free sneak peek of the documentary Chasing the Moon, Thursday, June 13, at 6:30 p.m.
The three-part documentary will premiere on PBS’ American Experience on MPBN, July 8, at 9 p.m.
Chasing the Moon, a film by Robert Stone, re-imagines the race to the moon for a new generation, upending much of the conventional mythology surrounding the effort. The Library will screen the 38-minute excerpt The Giant Leap.
Following the clip, deputy Library Director Patricia King will lead a discussion and there will be an opportunity for participants to share moon landing reminiscences.
In mid-July 1969, crowds flooded Cocoa Beach in anticipation of the historic launch. Camped out along the beach and gathered in cars, spectators endured the blistering heat in anticipation of the impending launch. At the same time, civil rights leader Robert Abernathy led a peaceful protest, criticizing the priorities of the federal government. Then head of NASA Thomas Pain received them warmly, noting, “We would like to see you hitch your wagons to our rockets” in making their concerns heard by a national audience. Pain invited Abernathy to the launch site, and the protesters joined the thousands of Americans gathered to see the Saturn V launch Apollo 11 into the atmosphere.
On July 20, 1969, the biggest television audience in world history tuned in to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon’s surface. The relationship between the press, Hollywood, and NASA reached its zenith as broadcasters produced the first truly global live television experience of the landing. CBS News Director Joel Banow recounts how CBS News even hired a Hollywood special effects wiz to create simulations of the journey so that they would have something to televise until Armstrong and Aldrin were actually on the moon.
Though these first stages of the landing couldn’t be seen live on earth, the Apollo 11 crew proceeded with the difficult undocking and landing maneuvers that should place them safely on the lunar surface. Audiences watched simulations and listened to audio coverage with baited breath as Armstrong delicately maneuvered the lunar module only to discover the landing site was in fact a football-field sized crater, forcing Armstrong to hover the craft and look for a new site with a mere thirty seconds of fuel. At last, audiences heard the triumphant words, “the Eagle has landed.” Mission control responded, “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue – we’re breathing again.”
The Library will also screen the clip, Tuesday, July 2, at 6:30 p.m., followed by a discussion.
The event, sponsored by Friends of Rockland Public Library, is free and open to the public. The Library is located at 80 Union St. FMI: 594-0310.