The Apollo 11 mission launched 50 years ago this Tuesday. There are dozens of way to celebrate one of man’s most impressive achievements. Here are eleven in the D.C. area. Some are obvious, the Apollo 50: Go for the Moon event is a can’t miss, some are tangentially related. Regardless of your NASA interest, there’s something for the space cadet and astrophobic.
Let the space celebrations begin! The National Air and Space Museum is kicking off a slew of Apollo 11 50th anniversary celebrations tomorrow at 9 a.m. Swing by the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia for a day of astronaut talks, special materials from the archives, lunar story time for the little ones and a live broadcast of NASA’s Apollo 11 TV program. If you haven’t been to the Udvar-Hazy Center yet (which is worth the drive out into the depths of Virginia) this is the perfect excuse to skip work / class / life and celebrate 50 years of moon stuff.
July 16 through January 5 – By the Light of the Silvery Moon: A Century of Lunar Photographs @ National Gallery of Art
In honor of this sweet 50th anniversary, NGA’s latest exhibition includes a barrage of vintage moon photography, including pictures from the (unmanned) Ranger, Surveyor, and Lunar Orbiter missions that were the prequels to Apollo 11, shots taken by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon and old as dirt stereographs and photogravures (what does that even mean!) taken off the moon in the 1850s-1910s. The title of the exhibition really says it all. Get ready to bask in the glow.
July 16 through September 2 – Infinite Space @ Artechouse
If the artier celebrations (like NGA’s photo exhibition) are calling your name, stop by Artechouse for their aptly title Infinite Space exhibition. Featuring the works of Refik Anadol, Infinite Space is all about accepting and exploring vastness of time and space. Through projections, machine learning and mirrors, Anadol’s work is as close as you can get to understanding the concept of infinity. Broaden your horizons, don’t get stuck in the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, consider the 150th. The 1500th. The 15000th.
July 16 through 21 – Apollo 11 IMAX screening @ Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
Nerd out and dive into the specifics of the Apollo 11 launch with the 2019 documentary. Featuring never-before-seen audio and footage from the launch, Apollo 11 gives new context to the historical event. The footage looks absolutely stunning (check out the sweet trailer) and I can only imagine how it’s going to look on that huge IMAX screen. If you’re a documentary fiend, this is the ultimate screening.
July 18, 19 and 20 – Apollo 50 Fest @ National Mall
What we lacked in this year’s shortened-due-to-shutdown Folklife Festival, we’re making up with the Apollo 50 Fest. For three day on the Mall between 4th Street and 7th Street there will be programs on the fest stage and more programming in 20 tented displays. Check out the fest map to plan your adventure.
July 18 through August 4 – Earthrise @ The Kennedy Center
If you’re looking for a family friendly activity that’s entirely indoors, this world premiere show is the story of three children of NASA employees watching the Apollo 11 launch, dreaming of their earthrise. The show will combine projections, songs, and NASA footage along with actor performances.
July 19 and 20 – Apollo 50: Go for the Moon
This is what you’ll see on Instagram over the weekend. The massive 363-foot Saturn V rocket projection on the east face of the Washington Monument will be live July 16, 17 and 18 from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. but the big shows are Friday and Saturday night. A 17-minute show combining full-motion projection mapping artwork and archival footage to recreate the launch of Apollo 11 on the face of the Washington Monument and supporting screens, including a 40-foot-wide recreation of the famous Kennedy Space Center countdown clock, is a once every 50 year type of event.
If you’re not sure where to view the event, the Air & Space Museum recommends viewing areas on the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian Castle between 9th and 12th Streets.
Once you view takeoff on the Washington Monument, walk to the rooftop with the best view of the Monument for a special set by Jeff Mills. RSVPing is recommended.
The second of our Kennedy Center picks includes a diverse, all star cast of space lovers. For the person that enjoys the work of Adam Savage, Pharrell Williams, and LeVar Burton, you’re in luck!
We love The Wonderland Ballroom and we love Comedy Potluck and we should let you know a BYT writer is hosting this event. It’s the only Apollo 11 event that will be intentionally funny. It’s the only Apollo 11 event will to acknowledge the moon is only 50 years old.
If you’re a sexy boy, here’s your event. Dive into the French duo’s near perfect LP and go as far away from space as possible. It’s the event that has the least to do with Neil Armstrong and the most to do with 10 Things I Hate About You.
Keep the exploration going at home with a copy of Parcak’s book. The National Geographic Fellow and TED Prize-winner Doctor will talk about “space archaeology” at the H Street book store.