July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the first steps on our moon taken by mankind. The events that led to that historic moment and the details of that day continue to inspire dreams of space travel today.

“We’re dedicated to celebrating this incredible journey,” says Adam Kane, executive director of the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium. “It’s a journey that was closely watched 50 years ago when Fred Mold, director of the Fairbanks Museum at that time, opened the planetarium 8 years earlier.” The Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium was installed in 1961, motivated by the space race between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.

A press release from NASA in 1969 gives a few details about the remarkable journey that launched on July 16, when a three-man spacecraft took off for the Moon. Apollo 11 had a mission to put the first astronaut on the Moon’s surface, 38-year-old Neil A. Armstrong of Wapakoneta, Ohio. According to the NASA release, Armstrong’s initial act will be “to unveil a plaque whose message symbolizes the nature of the journey.”

The plaque includes a map of the Earth and this inscription:



JULY 1969 A.D.


To commemorate the historic significance of this day, the Fairbanks Museum invites people who remember and others who want to experience the excitement of the first step on the moon. A full afternoon of activities, planetarium shows, and ways to engages are planned in and around the Museum in St. Johnsbury.

Starting at 1 p.m., the Museum is open to everyone at no charge. Music from the 1960s will usher in the mood of the era, and a new exhibit of the Lunar Landing will be on view. These events are open to the public.

  • 1 p.m. "One Giant Leap for Mankind" exhibit opening
  • 1:30 p.m. Screening of Moon Film in the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium; Unveiling of the lunar rocks with Mark Breen and Bobby Farlice-Rubio
  • 2:15 p.m. Screening of Moon Film in the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetairum; Moon rock showing
  • 2:45 to 4:30 p.m. Moon rock showing. Activities: Lunar relay race; Building bottle rockets; Paper airplane creation; “Bang, Zoom, To the Moon” in the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium
  • 3 p.m. Moon rock showing
  • 3:30 p.m. Screening of Moon Film 1
  • 4 p.m. Screening of Moon Film 2
  • 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Activities: Simulating the first walk; “Bang, Zoom, To the Moon” in the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium; Bottle rockets blast off; Telescopes on fake moon
  • 4:45 p.m. Moon rock showing
  • 6:30 p.m. Raffle drawing; Last moon rock showing