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International Moon Day 2023: Date, Significance and History

What is International Moon Day?

International Moon Day is an annual day dedicated to the Earth’s one and only natural satellite, the Moon!. It’s held every year on the 20th of July, which is the anniversary of the day on which astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin famously set foot on the Moon in 1969. The Moon landing is still considered one of humanity’s greatest achievements, and so International Moon Day is all about commemorating the Apollo 11 mission while teaching people about the Moon and astronomy.

Significance of International Moon Day

  • The General Assembly declared International Moon Day, a United Nations-designated international day to be observed annually on 20 July, in its resolution 76/76 on “International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space” in 2021.
  • International Moon Day marks the anniversary of the first landing by humans on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 lunar mission.
  • The celebrations will also consider the achievements of all States in the exploration of the Moon and raise public awareness of sustainable Moon exploration and utilization.

History of International Moon Day

  • American astronauts Neil Armstrong, and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin became the first humans in history to land on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The grand Apollo 11 mission took place eight years after the national goal announcement by President John F. Kennedy to send a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s.
  • The idea for the mission to send astronauts to the moon started when President Kennedy appealed to a special joint session of Congress in 1961, stating “I believe 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 Earth.”
  • At the time of Kennedy’s proposal, the United States was still head-to-head with the Soviet Union in advancements in space exploration and, since it was during the time of the Cold War, the proposal was welcomed. The first unmanned Apollo mission was initiated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, after five years of effort and hard work by their international team of engineers and scientists. The first mission served as a testing phase for the structural resilience of the launch spacecraft vehicle.
  • At 9:32 A.M. on July 16, 1969, the whole world witnessed Apollo 11 take off from Kennedy Space Center with three astronauts on board. Neil Armstrong was the commander of the mission. The spacecraft entered the lunar orbit after three days, on July 19. The lunar module, Eagle, disengaged from the main command module the next day, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin. When Eagle touched the lunar surface, Armstrong radioed his historical message to Mission Control in Houston, Texas: “The Eagle has landed.”
  • At 10:39 P.M., Armstrong exited the lunar module and made his way down its ladder. His progress was being recorded by a television camera attached to the module, transmitting signals back to Earth, where the world was watching with bated breath.
  • At 10:56 P.M., Armstrong stepped on the moon’s powdery surface, and spoke his iconic words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

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