Staerkel Planetarium Celebrates Apollo 11
/ Categories: General, Natural Sciences

Staerkel Planetarium Celebrates Apollo 11

Summerlong displays and presentations mark the 1969 Moon landing

On July 21, 1969, at 10:56:15 p.m. EDT, Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon with the now famous words: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that Apollo 11 Moon mission with the following displays and presentations.

"Many Inspired Steps" Exhibit
"Many Inspired Steps" tells the story of the Moon mission: the mythology of Icarus flying to close to the Sun and his wax wings melting; the conquest of the air in the 20th century; the conquest of space; of course, the triumph of Apollo 11; and much more. The pictorial display was organized by Thomas A. Lesser (who has donated the exhibition) and is distributed by Audio Visual Imagineering, Inc. (which has donated the distribution of the exhibition to the Staerkel Planetarium). It is displayed on the wall in the hallway leading to the M-wing corridor.
Saturn V, Apollo, Moon/Earth Displays
Visitors can view a Lego model of the Saturn V rocket (on loan from the Thomas-Stagg family), a Moon globe showing all six Apollo landing sites, and a to-scale model of the Earth and Moon.
Apollo 11 Memories Bulletin Board
A bulletin board where visitors can share their memories of that evening in July, 1969, is available for use.
The public is also invited to email their remembrances of the Apollo 11 moment as well. Send memories to Memory submissions should include a first name and where that person was living in 1969; planetarium staff will post them on the memory bulletin board (minus any contact information).
"Summer Prairie Skies"
June 14–September
The annual planetarium show "Summer Prairie Skies" will include a simulation of the final eight minutes of the first lunar landing including actual audio from the lunar module. In addition, the entire dome will be turned into the command module control panel. "Summer Prairie Skies" premieres at 7 p.m. on June 14 and will be presented each Friday through September. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for students, seniors, and kids under the age of 12.
"Dawn of the Space Age"
June 7–August
Beginning Friday, June 7, the planetarium will premiere the fulldome movie "Dawn of the Space Age." From the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, to the magnificent lunar landings and privately-operated space flights, patrons will be immersed and overwhelmed with this accurate historic reconstruction of humankind's first forays into space. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for students, seniors, and kids under the age of 12. Special doubleheader rates apply.

  • Retiring Staerkel Planetarium Director Dave Leake will take a look back at the mission of Apollo 11 in a talk for the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society during its regular meeting on July 11 at 7 p.m. The public is invited free of charge. 

  • See the Apollo 11 landing site in the "Sea of Tranquility" during free public open houses at the Prairie Winds Observatory, operated by the CU Astronomical Society. All sessions begin at 8 p.m. and are weather-permitting on June 8, July 6 and August 3.  For a full schedule of planetarium programs and events, call the show hotline at 217/351-2446 or visit more information on the CU Astronomical Society, visit

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