July 23, 2019 1:07 PM
Dane Lisser

50th Anniversary of Moon Landing ignites memories

Saturday, July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the first humans landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969 as part of NASA's Apollo 11 lunar mission.

Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later.

The 50th anniversary was a special day for Dr. Casey Watson, chair of the department of physics and astronomy at Millikin University, for two reasons. One is the anniversary of the moon landing, which he said had an impact on his life and career despite the fact that he hadn't been born yet. The other is, it's his son's first birthday.

In an interview with the Herald & Review, Watson said the space program inspired him to study math and physics.

Casey Watson

"When I learned about the Space Race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. as a child, I was extremely impressed by the emphasis the U.S. placed on mathematics and science education during that era, and wish it still did," Watson said. "I was also impressed by how rapidly we made progress as a species. Less than 12 years passed between the launch of Sputnik in the fall of 1957 and the first human beings walking on the moon in the summer of 1969."

Watson added, "The moon landing is significant because it marked our emergence as a space-faring species. We successfully landed on and explored another world. More significant still was the way this journey impacted our cosmic perspective. Images of Earth that rise from the moon let us appreciate not only how beautiful our home is, but also how small and fragile it is within the fast, cold expanse of space."

"Reflecting on the monumental efforts it took just to reach the nearest astronomical body and stay alive for the few days it took to go there and back underscored how vital it is for us to take care of our planet in a way no other experience ever could," said Watson. "That is the lesson from the moon landing and space program as a whole that I hope we keep at the forefront of our minds."