| By Mary Bonk, Content Development, Gale |
I became interested in astronomy as a kid. My mom used to wake me up in the middle of the night to witness special “night sky” events. I don’t remember exactly what I saw those nights, but I loved being up late, and searching the sky for a trail of light, a small sparkle, or a pattern of lights. Stars, planets, the moon, they were all out there.
I grew up during the Moon Race, which was highlighted by the United States landing on the moon, and the first moonwalk of astronaut Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969. I remember gathering around our television for the live programming. It was the highlight of the summer. Although the picture was not of the highest quality, we were able to make out Armstrong, and hear him say those famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was so incredibly cool—a man on the moon. That moon walk was (and still is) one of the most celebrated achievements in the history of humanity. Kids everywhere were hooked on the study of celestial objects forever.
I honed my night sky skills, studying and identifying the constellations on hot summer nights spent at the beach, and throughout cold clear wintry nights back in the suburbs. I plotted the moon’s orbit or path for an entire lunar cycle and learned the difference between waxing (increasing after a new moon, always illuminated on the right) and waning (decreasing after a full moon, always illuminated on the left). I even studied astronomy in college (until I tapped out on the physics part of the science) and had the opportunity to take pictures of the moon in an astronomical observatory with a special telescopic camera. I continue to enjoy learning about all things space-oriented.
We will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of that historic walk this summer. New astronomers, young and old, will have the opportunity to explore space and the contributions of the space program with renewed vigor. Reading programs from 16,000 libraries across the United States will celebrate space exploration. The theme “A Universe of Stories” has been selected by library professionals to help inspire learners of all ages to dream big, believe in themselves, and create their own story.
We aren’t content just to go to the moon today. One of NASA’s latest endeavors is called “to the Moon and on to Mars.” We want to extend ourselves to the farthest corners of the universe. This is the next giant leap. Engage a young student with the study of space and space exploration, they might just take that knowledge to another planet!
Take flight this summer and let creative minds blast off with Gale’s Kids InfoBits and Research In Context. Download training materials.
Banner image: American astronauts landed on the moon in 1969. © NASA/AFP/Getty Images