50 Years of Apollo

On July 21, it will be FIFTY years since mankind first walked on the Moon.

Although the Russians – with superior rocket power – managed to get not only the first satellite in space, but the first man in orbit, first woman in orbit, and smash the first man-made object into the moon, it wasn’t until May of 1961 when President John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech, challenging America that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

United for the Cause

Perhaps no other statement since Roosevelt’s “Date which will live in infamy…” speech has done more to stir an entire nation in a single united direction. Congress allotted funding. The infant technology industry ramped up. Mylar was invented. Velcro found a use. Manufacturing learned to miniaturize (in a time of bulky tubes and transistors, when each reel of magnetic computer tape could hold a whopping 184 Kilobytes of memory [for reference, an MP3 recording of the Star Spangled Banner runs around 900 Kb – half your memory]). The entire country surged forward with that dream, no doubt spurred on as an homage to Kennedy following his assassination. TV picked up the dream with serious and non-serious programs like Star Trek, Lost in Space, Dr. Who, and more. Movies gave way to huge spectacles, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, and a few thousand campy pulp films. Food wasn’t left out: the need to eat in space gave us the use of TANG, dehydrated ice cream, and Pillsbury Space Food Sticks.

The Final Frontier

The road to the moon was littered with failures – we didn’t even manage to smash a probe onto the moon until 1962. We made it through the Gemini program, only to learn that some things couldn’t be rushed or corners cut when the Apollo 1 crew – Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee – burned to death in an oxygen fire in a test module, because the pressurized doors opened the wrong way. This led to a pause – there was no Apollo 2 or 3, and 4-5-6 were all unmanned. If ever there was a lot of pressure on a crew, Apollo 7 was the first 3-manned crew to blast off Earth, period. Missions 8-10 looped the moon, giving us the famous Earthrise photo.

Apollo 11 pulled it all together. With less computer capability than an Apple watch, the lunar lander settled on the moon,  Armstrong sent out the famous words, “The Eagle has landed,” followed shortly by Armstrong’s historic “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” At the end of an incredibly violent, divisive, depressing decade, the entire world came together for a few brief moments to rejoice.

Fifty years later, we sit back on our Tempur-pedic cushions with our cell phones, tablets, LED lights, and flat-screen TVs, watching through scratch-proof lenses or LASIK-fixed eyes (all outgrowths of the space program),  and marvel at a time when space exploration was our future.

Deniers

How do we know it wasn’t faked? Like everywhere Man goes, we left our garbage behind – landing modules, rovers, flags and plaques – more than 400,000 pounds worth, and though they can’t be seen by any telescope on Earth (you’re talking a 10-foot object from 239,000 miles away), they can by orbital satellites around the Moon.  The path to space is far too complex for a blog post, so grab a good book, watch a good film (join us for a viewing of the documentary Apollo 11 at CPL on July 18), and think on just how different our lives would be if we never tried to reach for the Moon.

             

                       

                           

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in July

We’re deep into summer, but if you think summer programming is just about kids, think again! We’ve got lots of grown-up programs on the calendar, take a look:

Movie Matinees

Tuesdays, 1:00 – 3:00pm

Escape the heat with different movie every Tuesday afternoon in July.  Drop in, no registration required.

Travel Meetups

Monday, July 8, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Going on vacation soon? Chat with others before you go? Share your own travel experiences, photos from around the world and meet other travel enthusiasts. Registration is appreciated.

Open Art Studio in the Library Loft

Fridays, 1:00 – 3:00pm

Bring your works in progress and supplies (no turpentine, please! to this drop-in art program. This is an opportunity to create in a collaborative environment with other artists. No formal instruction will be provided, but informal critiquing for those who want it is encouraged. Table covers will be provided. There is a sink in the room for basic cleanup. No registration required.

Mindful Meditation

Tuesdays, July 16, 23, 30, 6:30 – 8:00pm

This meditation class is presented by local meditation teacher Bill Lynch and consists of deep breathing exercises followed by mindful meditation, which trains the mind to be in the present moment.  Mindful meditation helps you to live in the present and makes life easier by not allowing anxiety, depression and other emotions to control you.  Registration required.

Cat Tales – Writers Group

Thursday, July 18, 2019, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Join us at the library for an open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Join us once, join us every month! . Adults only, Registration required.

Apollo 11 ~ Documentary

Thursday, July 18, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Never-before-seen footage and audio recordings take you straight into the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin embark on a historic trip to the moon. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future. Rated G. Registration required.

The Bald Eagle

Monday, July 22, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Bald eagles were once so endangered that many considered whether to replace them as America’s national symbol. The ongoing story of their recovery as a species and CT’s healthy eagle population is a comeback story worth hearing. Join Ginny Apple, a Master Wildlife Conservationist with the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, for a talk about these magnificent birds of prey. Registration required.

That’s Weird!

Thursday, July 25, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

An ordinary-looking map with a sinister surprise. Earrings made of human hair. A piece of a revered Connecticut tree carved in the shape of a….ham? Museums are full of objects that make staff and visitors say, “Huh?”. This presentation explores some of the Connecticut Historical Society’s strangest items. You will learn how even the oddest artifacts can be gateways into a deeper understanding and appreciation of our state’s history. Registration required.

New Science From Mars

Monday, July 29, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

This presentation will focus on the recent results from the rovers and orbiters that have been exploring Mars in the last decade and how these missions have changed how we see the Red Planet. Registration required.

Books Over Coffee: November Road

Wednesday, July 31, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Join us for our adult lunchtime book club program.  On the last Wednesday of every month we’ll meet to discuss the selected title. November Road by Lou Berney is our July selection. Books are available each month ahead of time, and will be available in audio & ebook format. You bring your lunch, we’ll provide the coffee and tea. Registration required.