Next Meeting Presentation

6 June 2019 – Next Club Meeting

An Astronomy Guest Speaker Series Event – a collaboration of the Astronomy Club of Asheville and UNC Asheville

Thursday night, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. – In the Reuter Center‘s Manheimer Room, located on the UNC Asheville campus. The meeting is free and open to the general public.

“From Small Step to Giant Leap: the Epic Lunar Voyages of Apollo” –presented by Dominic Lesnar, Astronomy Club of Asheville

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong lifted his left foot off the pad of his Apollo 11 spacecraft and stepped onto lunar soil. This small, simple gesture culminated an arduous decade of intense American effort and ingenuity to fulfill John F. Kennedy’s daunting challenge of placing a man on the moon.

For thousands of years before Apollo 11, our ancestors gazed up in wonder at the earth’s natural satellite, transfixed by its undeniable allure. That we would one day voyage to this distant world and place footprints on another planet seemed like science fiction to even the generation preceding Apollo. NASA achieved this remarkable feat, however, after just 66 years of human aviation; it was only in 1903 that the Wright brothers completed the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk!

To meet Kennedy’s challenge, the American space program headed literally into the unknown, and this path was spurred on by rapid mechanical and technological advances, engineering ingenuity and an intense desire to triumph in the Cold War “space race” against the Soviet Union. NASA’s rush to achieve this goal was also littered with hard lessons, countless setbacks and heartbreaking tragedy.

This presentation, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, will trace the genesis of the Apollo program and what lead the United States to engage the USSR in a race to the moon. We will discuss exactly how NASA sent spacecraft on a half million-mile journey through the vacuum of space, highlighting the mission hardware that allowed astronauts to land, walk, live and eventually drive on a world of inhospitable terrain with danger at each step. Finally, we’ll cover the scientific and geological discoveries gleaned from Apollo, and briefly highlight each of the 9 missions that flew to the moon.