By Sheila Wickouski

A statue of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit is unveiled at Nationals Park. (left to right): Gregory McCarthy, Senior Vice President, Community Engagement, Washington Nationals; Dr. Ellen Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director, National Air and Space Museum; Allan Holt, The Hillside Foundation; Mark D. Lerner, Managing Principal Owner, Washington Nationals; Photo by Perry Klein

Want a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing? If the answer is “yes,” then check out the five-day celebration at The National Air and Space Museum, and these other events around town.

From July 16, exactly 50 years from the launch of Apollo 11, to July 20, the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the first steps on the moon, visitors can relive this momentous milestone through a variety of educational and commemorative activities.

Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit will be shown in a state-of-the-art display case on July 16 for the first time in 13 years. It will be temporarily displayed near the 1903 Wright Flyer at the Air and Space Museum until it is relocated to the “Destination Moon” exhibition, to be completed in 2022.

On Wednesday, July 17, enjoy “Ready Jet Go!,” the award-winning animated space-themed PBS KIDS series, which will play at the museum’s Lockheed Martin IMAX theater at 5 p.m., followed by a live music performance. After the shows, there will be games and a meet and greet with Jet, the series star, and NASA experts.

On Thursday, July 18, catch “One Giant Leap: Space Diplomacy Past, Present, Future,” a museum program in partnership with the U.S. State Department and the George Washington University, which will be held at the university’s Lisner Auditorium. The panel will include Michael Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut and former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs; Ellen Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum; and Charles Bolden, U.S. Science Envoy for Space and former NASA Administrator; and will be moderated by Teasel Muir-Harmony, Apollo Curator at the museum. The event will be free and tickets are currently available.

On Friday, July 19, see “Discover the Moon Day!” where Air and Space Museum visitors can interact one-on-one with museum scientists and historians to learn about lunar exploration through high-resolution images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the moon in 3-D and more. Visitors can also start at the lunar module and “retrace” the astronauts’ steps, visiting stations along a route approximately equivalent to the distances the astronauts walked.

On Saturday, July 20, the museum will feature activities to celebrate the anniversary of the first steps on the moon, that will culminate at the exact time (10:56 p.m. ET) the steps were taken. The museum will remain open until 2 a.m.

For more information about all of the museum’s Apollo anniversary plans and Apollo historical content, visit

In addition, the National Air and Space Museum and the Washington Nationals will host “Apollo Night” on July 5 with Apollo activities, stargazing and a limited distribution of an exclusive Apollo at the Park T-shirt.

Also, in celebration of the event, the National Gallery of Art will exhibit around 50 lunar photographs in “By the Light of the Silvery Moon: A Century of Lunar Photographs”(July 14, 2019 to January 5, 2020).  Highlights include:Warren de la Rue’s late 1850s glass stereograph of the full moon; a suite of Charles Le Morvan’s photogravures from Carte photographique et systematique de la lune, which attempted to systematically map the entire visible lunar surface; glass stereographs of close-up views of three-inch-square areas of the lunar surface taken on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin; and iconic NASA and press photographs of the astronauts that were disseminated widely in the wake of the mission’s success.

On Saturday, July 20, the National Gallery of Art will also present Philip Kaufman’s “The Right Stuff” at 11 p.m.; and “Cycles, Tides, and Rhythms: The Moon on Film” at 3 p.m. (an eclectic international program of vintage and contemporary shorts with the moon as inspiration). On Sunday July 21, at 4:30 p.m., the museum will feature a digital restoration of Nicolas Roeg’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”

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