The phrase “To the moon and back” took on a new meaning as interest in the planet reached new heights at a special “party” in Preston.
A sell-out crowd of 450 astronomy buffs, young and old, converged on the University of Central Lancashire to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon landing.
The science extravaganza combined fun and interactive exhibits with a talk which allowed people to experience, or relive for those old enough to remember, the sights and times of July 20 1969 when one of the greatest feats ever achieved by the human race occurred as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on to the moon.
Highlight of the event was the sound and vision show ‘Rocket to the Moon’, in which UCLan’s Dr Kevin Bowman explained what it was like to live through those times.
Visitors were able to view the moon through telescopes, with expert guidance on hand; they were able to view the largest paper model of the Apollo-Saturn V in the world, the huge 1/24 scale paper model is over five metres tall when stacked; and they tried their hand at a computer simulation landing on the moon using the same method as used on the Apollo missions.
Dr Bowman, from UCLan’s Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, said: “Having grown up through the time of the Apollo moon landings I really wanted to give people a feel of just what an exciting time that was.”
He added: " It was really nice to see people from all ages, from the very young to the very old sharing in this experience. It was quite humbling to see the emotional effect it had on so many of the audience."
Professor Derek Ward-Thompson, head of the school of physical sciences and computing, added: “The Apollo 11 moon landing was the greatest technical achievement in the history of the human race.
"It generated world-wide interest and inspired a whole generation of scientists, myself included."
The JHI is celebrating the 50th year since this event with a series of public events, including the Museum of the Moon exhibition in the Harris Museum in February, which attracted more than 50,000 visitors