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    Cernan Earth and Space Center

    The Moon: From Imagination to Exploration

    Grade Level: 5th grade and up
    Length: 47 minutes

    The Moon: From Imagination to Exploration is a complete overview of the Earth's moon, from the days when it was regarded as a god to the Apollo missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s that landed humans on its surface.

    Using the Cernan Center's star projector, historic video clips, panoramic scenes and countless photographs from NASA and observatories, this multimedia program is divided into several "chapters" that each describe a different aspect of the Earth's only natural satellite, as follows:

    By the Light of the Silvery Moon
    This section introduces the program and briefly describes the moon's impact on our history and popular culture.

    Round and ‘Round She Goes
    This section describes the basic characteristics of the moon, including its relative size, movement through the sky, its changing phases, the reason why the same side of the moon always faces the Earth and tides.

    The Moon as Seen with a Telescope
    This section describes Galileo's first telescopic observations of the moon and then explores some of the countless surface features that can be seen with a small telescope, including the maria (or "seas"), mountains chains and peaks, craters, faults, rilles, rays and domes. Next, the program describes both solar and lunar eclipses, complete with photographs and video segments that try to convey the breathtaking splendor of these remarkable natural events. Finally, this section shows and describes lunar occultations, which occur when the moon passes in front of a star or planet, eclipsing their light in the blink of an eye.

    One Giant Leap for Mankind
    This section describes how mankind's vision of exploring the moon has been transformed from science fiction to scientific reality in the past few decades. The program describes Sputnik 1 and the genesis of the space age in the late 1950s, then describes some of the early manmade probes that were sent to the moon to photograph and map its surface. Beginning with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, men began to explore space in the early 1960s. Sparked in part by these early Soviet successes, America rallied behind President Kennedy's call for a lunar landing by the end of the 1960s and initiated a three-part plan to accomplish this -- Projects Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

    The Moon: From Imagination to Exploration then provides a brief summary of many of the missions leading up to the moon, including those of Alan Shepard, John Glenn and the other Mercury astronauts. Project Gemini, with its two man crews, taught astronauts how to rendezvous and dock two spacecraft and endure space flights lasting days rather than hours. Finally, the Apollo missions, with their three man crews, tested the new spacecraft that were required to leave Earth's orbit and land men on the moon.

    By way of an imaginary trip to the moon, you will see, step by step, the various spacecraft maneuvers and mission activities that were undertaken by the Apollo astronauts. Beginning with Apollo 11 in 1969 and concluding with Apollo 17 in 1972, the lunar landing missions are visually described using mission photographs and video clips. Finally, the program gives a brief summary of what we learned about the moon as a result of the Apollo program.

    Captain Eugene A. Cernan, Commander of Apollo 17, described "man's destiny of tomorrow" as he took mankind's last footsteps on the moon in December, 1972. Someday, humans will return to the moon, to explore more of its surface and prepare for our next steps into the realm of outer space. A brief question-and-answer period follows the presentation.