Maybe you knew that December 24, 2018 was the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon. Instead of watching the moon rise from earth, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders saw the earth rising from the lunar orbit, photographed it and did a live broadcast.
“The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth,” Lovell said. It was Christmas Eve. The crew ended the broadcast reading from Genesis.
Almost 50 years from that memorable date, the Adler Planetarium put together a plan not just to mark the Apollo 8 crew’s occasion (which they did with a program that included Lovell) but to put it into a long lasting perspective.
The result is Imagine the Moon, a fun and exciting half-hour movie in the Grainger Sky Theater that includes Apollo 8’s earth-rising moments, the Apollo 11 landing with Neil Armstrong’s famed first words and a lot of literary and historic views.
“We wanted the audience to reconsider the Moon as an object in the sky. It is something we might notice but not really pay attention to, but our hope is that the audience will pay attention to it the next time they see it, be awed by it, and be inspired to consider what else they might have taken for granted in the sky,” said Adler Presentation Leader, Nicholas Lake, the movie’s writer.
The show explores thoughts about the moon and even how to reach it that it considers are mythological along with early astronomical associations plus literary references and wishful attempts such as the use of a bullet and cannon.
Indeed, Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon 1865 novel told of a Baltimore gun club’s idea to build a Columbiad space gun to send the club’s president and two others to the moon.
Beautifully illustrated, the show’s imagery was produced by Adler Director Patrick McPike and project animators using material from the Adler collection, the European Southern Observatory and such institutions as Harvard, New York University, and the Smithsonian.
After the show, I was able to speak with Adler's Nick Lake.
Me: "The new sky show, Imagine the Moon, presents a new theory on how the moon was formed—this is quite different from past theories, could you comment on that?"
Nick: "Imagine the Moon shows a custom-made simulation of a new scientific theory of how the Moon formed. A theory of a massive collision forming the Moon has been around for decades, but this imagines a much higher-energy impact that would completely vaporize the proto-Earth and allow for the Moon and Earth to form out of the same vaporized cloud. This helps account for the fact that the Moon rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts are so similar to Earth rocks."
The show packs an amazing amount of information in its 30 minute run but does so in an entertaining and informative manner that I believe should appeal to a broad range of ages from children as young as six to adults of all ages.
So, go. Sit back in the theater as far as you can, look up and enjoy. I promise that after seeing the show you will never look at the moon in the same way again.
For ticket and other show information visit Adler Imagine the Moon or call 312 922-7827. To see some of the stories in the show scroll down to exhibition on the Adler website.
The Adler Planetarium is at 1300 Lake Shore Drive at the far east end of the Museum Campus.
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Filed under: Chicago Museums