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Apollo 11 Mania

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Did you hear? Today, July 20, 2009, is the 40th anniversary of the day humans first set foot on the moon.

Yeah, I know. If you read newspapers/watch TV/surf the web/opened your door this morning, you’ve probably been flooded with Apollo 11 news by now.

On one hand, it’s quite the achievement worth celebrating. On the other, it’s a reminder of all we have *not* accomplished in the field of human space travel over the past 40 years.

For our part, NatGeo has been busy creating some fascinating content to commemorate the heady days of the Apollo program.

One of my personal favorites is an interactive version of a pressed vinyl record called Sounds of the Space Age, which was an insert in the December 1969 issue of the magazine.

I may not be old enough to remember the moon landings (technically, I wasn’t born yet!) but man, I do recall those wonderfully floppy records. I’m pretty sure I had one with a McDonald’s song that had me crooning the ingredients in a Big Mac when I was 12…

Speaking of Micky Ds, some good folks working out of a now-defunct restaurant in California have been restoring the original 1960s Lunar Orbiter pictures taken to help scout out landing sites for the Apollo program, and we’ve got a few examples of their work on display.

To get a real sense of how well satellites could see back then, check out a zoomable version of the famous “Earthrise” image taken by the first Lunar Orbiter.

Still not convinced man landed on the moon? Writer Ker Than interviewed a couple delightfully witty experts, who gave him the skinny on why some of the more common hoax theories are all wet. And if historic images don’t seal the deal, check out pictures released this weekend showing quite clearly the shadow of a lunar lander.

Finally, here’s a shameless plug for a piece I scared up on the question of who, exactly, can claim the moon.

There’s a ton more from us, and so much good, funny, thoughtful, and touching Apollo coverage elsewhere online.

It might seem weird to get so excited at the 40th, with the 50th just a few short years away. But as one historian recently noted, this could be the last major anniversary when all of the original Apollo 11 crewmates can still gather to tell tales. So make the most of it, people, we’re living history even as we relive that historic day.