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Craters of the Moon

Pictured from left, astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard with a geologist in 1969 at Craters of the Moon.

ARCO — Craters of the Moon staff and partner organizations will host a special event July 20 celebrating the 50th anniversary of astronauts walking on the moon — on the lunar surface and right here in Idaho. Special activities, listed in detail below, will include presentations by astronaut John Phillips, youth activities and opportunities to view the lunar surface through a telescope.

Apollo 11 landed on the moon July 20, 1969, and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface. About a month later, several astronauts associated with the Apollo 14 mission visited Craters of the Moon National Monument in preparation for their 1971 lunar mission.

Astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, Joe Engle and Eugene Cernan visited the site in order to learn the basics of volcanic geology. Since only a limited amount of rock samples could be returned to earth, it was important that they be able to identify the most scientifically valuable specimens.

Craters of the Moon continues to be an important venue for space science research. NASA scientists recently concluded two research efforts in which they utilized the lava landscape as a stand-in for Mars to test remote sensing, communication methods and other scientific research.

Moonfest schedule:

Moonfest events will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Robert Limbert Visitor Center. There is limited seating available in the theater. Sign-up sheets for the various events will be available at the visitor center information desk beginning at 8 a.m.

  • 9:30 a.m. — Presentation and book signing by “Moonscape” author Julie Weston. The book is her latest in a historic-mystery novel series set in central Idaho.
  • 11 a.m. — Presentation and book-signing by “The Flows” author Roger Boe. This new book explores the hidden wonders of Craters of the Moon through the poetry of Will Peterson with Roger Boe’s photography.
  • 1 p.m. — Presentation of PBS American Experience film “Chasing the Moon” about the Apollo 11 moon landing and a short presentation about the astronauts in Idaho, which is part of the Idaho Experience series
  • 3 p.m. — Presentation by astronaut John Phillips detailing his experiences on the space shuttle and the International Space Station
  • 5 p.m. — STEM activities for youth led by retired park ranger/NASA educator Donald Scott
  • Solar viewing on the visitor center patio throughout the day

Moonfest events will take place from 8 to 10:30 p.m. at the Lava Flow Campground Amphitheater. Parking will only be available in the visitor center or North Crater Flow parking lots. Both locations are about a quarter-mile walk to the amphitheater. People with accessibility needs may be shuttled to the amphitheater sidewalk.

  • 8 p.m. — Kids can earn a Lunar Ranger badge by participating in fun ranger-led activities.
  • 8:30 to 9:15 p.m. — Enjoy the otherworldly music of Boise band Mageñtto.
  • 9:30 p.m. — presentation by astronaut John Phillips detailing his experiences on the space shuttle and the International Space Station
  • 10:30 p.m. — View the lunar surface through a telescope with astro-ranger Molly.

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