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The Great Mars Myth & Apollo 11 Success Revisited

In the 2003 Farmers’ Almanac we reported that the Red Planet would make it’s closest approach to Earth in 73 millennia. We explained the way that Earth and Mars would align. And, on August  27th at 4:51 (EST) they would come as close as possible – a mere 34,646,488 miles (55,746,199 kilometers). If you don’t remember seeing Mars in 2003, it was probably because it wasn’t that big a “show”.  At least, not to the naked eye.
Each year a myth  perpetuates itself online that Mars will be huge – as big as a Full Moon….so get ready!  As we close in on August 27th , watch out for this exciting news. Unfortunately, it happened 6 years ago.  If you missed it, you missed it.  So, please delete this chatter and don’t send it on to others unless you want to be part of this internet legend. Ugh!
Speaking of Space…..these are exciting times, if you can remember 40 years ago.

When I was in grade school, we were told that the Moon was made out of cheese. I don’t know how that ever got started. Since no one ever landed on the moon, I guess it couldn’t be “disproven”.Maybe those craters were really gigantic Swiss cheese holes. Then, in 1962 President Kennedy  addressing  Rice University challenging the US ( all of us) to go to the Moon and do it during  that decade.
Kennedy was rather passionate as he said::
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. “
In the back of our minds was the unspoken “competition” with the Russians who seemed to have a jump on us with their space program. So, the words of President John Kennedy and the investment in intellectual talent and real  dollars, netted us the greatest technological accomplishment in man’s history. Apollo 11 departed Earth on July 16th and l set foot  on the Moon‘s surface on 4:17pm on July 20th. The Commander was Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot, Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot, Edwin Aldrin, Jr.  
I graduated Lewiston High School in June 1969. A friend and I were at my family cottage. I remember watching the landing and the first words uttered by Armstrong. Throughout the 60s, every  space launch was a major television  event.  The landing was viewed worldwide by over 500 million people – a record audience at that time. It captured the imagination of young children and created a sense of pride for America. 
You can go online and the same folks who will tell to watch for Mars will also  tell you that we never landed on the Moon and that this, like so many other things, is a “government ploy” to fool people. I am  relieved that  the Moon is not made of cheese but exploration has led our nation and other nations to take risks and go further than we could ever imagine. 
Congratulations to NASA and the crew of Apollo 11 . As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing, check your listings and watch as the mission evolved and listen to the tension, relief and exhilaration of a Mission accomplished.
I was at my parents cabin in Maine on July 20, 1969  watching the landing. Where were you??

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  • Mary Kate Feighan says:

    Maria? Montefusco? Maria? Who?

  • Maria says:

    ….well I was in Connecticut, not Massachusetts in the summer of 1969, but I do know that converted chicken coop.
    As I live and breath, Mikie Rodman, now Feighan, how are you? I do hope you are well and happy. What a surprise…what a pleasant surprise!

  • Farmers' Almanac Staff says:

    Hi Mary Kate – Looked up the moon phase for July 20, 1969 and got the following:

    Waxing Crescent
    36% of Full

  • Mary Kate Feighan says:

    I was 11 and we were in the “coop” (a converted chicken barn), in Blandford, Massachusettes where we spent the best summers of our lives. I live in Ireland now and my when my husband asks me if I’m homesick. I always reply, yes: for summer 1969. Does anyone from New England remember what the weather was like that day and the phase of the moon?

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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