I was born on the 21st of July, the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were officially the first people on the moon. While I was born not in 1969, but on the 14th moon landing anniversary (1983), I still feel a special connection to the Apollo 11 landing date and that’s why I’m happy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this historic event this year!
On invitation of Omniversum Den Haag, an IMAX-theatre in the city of The Hague in The Netherlands, I attended a special screening of the recently released documentary ‘Apollo 11 – First Steps Edition‘, shown on a screen that really brings the first moon landing to life.
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- MOON LANDING ANNIVERSARY AT DEN HAAG OMNIVERSUM
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MOON LANDING ANNIVERSARY AT DEN HAAG OMNIVERSUM
Apollo 11 Film on the BIG Screen
To watch the Apollo 11 documentary, I brought my dad, who is also a true space geek and even watched the landing live on TV as a little boy. Have you read my post about my dad’s impressive space collection, including a signature of Apollo 11 crew member Neil Armstrong yet?
In the film, you can see the preparations for the launch of the Apollo 11, everything that goes on at the launch basis in Florida, the liftoff itself with crowds of people watching at Cape Canaveral, the lunar landing of the Eagle Apollo 11 command module and of course the first steps on the surface of the moon, shot from above, rather than the shot from the side that you might have seen in all the TV-coverage throughout the years. After the landing, you get to spend some time on the moon and then return for earth.
Of all the Apollo missions, of course this one feels the most special and it is just amazing how close you feel to the Apollo 11 astronauts as their Saturn V-rocket is being launched in a suborbital flight and then sets its course to the moon. Of course the famous words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” didn’t get left out in the movie.
The grandness of the screen, that is almost similar to that in a planetarium, made it sometimes hard to see all the details in this sometimes fast-paced documentary, so I would love to see it again on a ‘normal’ big screen, but it does make you feel like you’re there yourself!
Because of the size of the screen, subtitles aren’t possible, but I didn’t miss those for a second as you really get sucked into the story from the start.
At the end of the ride you can understand a little bit what the astronauts must have gone through themselves as you’ll leave your seats shaking in excitement!
Not Just Another Space Documentary…
Director Todd Douglas Miller originally planned to create a typical documentary about the Apollo 11 mission, but when he asked the American National Archives whether they might have some additional footage of the moon landing than the images that were broadcasted all over the world, he never expected the answer he would get.
The archives send him a long and (unheard of from the usually reserved archivists) excited email back, telling him that they’d found about 165 almost unused film reels from the Apollo Project, 61 exclusively about Apollo 11.
But that wasn’t all: the footage was all shot on large 70 mm film, which makes the film extremely detailed these days. Apparently NASA simply ‘forgot’ that they had so many cameras running, on top of the film and photos the astronauts shot themselves. And that they kept all of it!
It wasn’t easy to convert the film though, they had to create a special scanner to digitalise the footage in high resolution, something that had never been done before. But the result is such a high-quality film, that it’s hard to see the footage is so old. It’s like it was shot yesterday! I saw some of the scenes from the film on the TV the other day and the quality looked even better than we could see at the Omniversum. So I would highly recommend seeing it on multiple sizes if you can.
On top of that, over 11.000 hours of audio material was found, coming from Mission Control in Houston. The Apollo 11 mission lasted for 9 days, so there was continuous audio of those 9 days to go through, which took the makers of the movie over half a year to do. With modern software, they were able to combine the audio with the film reels.
Discovering all the material was the moment Miller realized that this project would become more than just a documentary: it would be a project where he would preserve the historical footage itself. When you watch the film, you will notice there is no documentary voice-over added: the original audio literally speaks for itself.
Even the music that you hear in the movie has been composed and played on instruments (such as a synthesizer) that would have been available in 1969. To find out how certain sounds would have sounded in real life, the film makers approached aviation museums to find the perfect helicopter sound and even Apollo-astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins (the pilot that was there, but never set foot on the moon itself), as well as Neil’s son Rick Armstrong were included in the process to make everything sound as authentic as possible.
Curious about this astonishing movie? You can watch the trailer of the documentary here:
Where to Watch The Apollo 11 Film?
The documentary appeared in US cinemas from March 2019 and due to its success, you can now watch it also in The Netherlands!
You can watch the film in a 50-minute large IMAX-format at the Circle Theatre of Omniversum in The Hague (from May 21, 2019), or as a 90-minute regular sized format at cinemas throughout The Netherlands (from June 27, 2019). Both versions have unique shots, so true space fans are recommended to watch both films.
CNN will also broadcast the documentary on TV in the Summer of 2019, but I can highly recommend to watch it on the Big Screen!
Omniversum Address: President Kennedylaan 5, 2517 JK Den Haag
Omniversum Parking: I can advice to park at the Car park A World Forum parking, Omniversum can provide ‘uitrijkaarten’, which is a ticket you pay 6 Euro for and lets you stay for the entire day. Handy if you’re also visiting Museon or go into the city afterwards. This car park is only a short 5-8 minute walk to Omniversum.
Omniversum Prices: For the Apollo 11 film, the Omniversum price is € 12,50 for adults and € 9,75 for children (up to 12 yrs). If you’re planning on also visiting Muson, go for a combi-tickets, which is € 22,50 for adults, € 15,25 for children (up to 12 yrs) and € 20,00 for children (12 -18 yrs).
Omniversum Opening Hours: Open daily, even on holidays. Check the website for show times!
Omniversum Reservations: You can make bookings on the website. Reserved tickets must be picked up at the ticket office no later than half an hour before the start of the film.
Omniversum Program: For the full calendar, check the site: www.omniversum.nl/en/filmcalendar
More Space Adventures at Museon The Hague
After the screening, we chatted with some of the journalists in the lobby of the theatre and get to speak to Piet Smolders, one of The Netherlands’ most expert space journalists.
I didn’t know this when talking to him, but he used to be the director of the Artis Planetarium in Amsterdam, has written many books on space travel and is often seen on TV to comment on important events related to space travel. Recently, he auctioned off his entire space collection and my dad could share some of his own stories with him, which was fun to watch!
We got so excited talking about all things space, that we also decided to pay a visit to the ‘Museon‘ museum, which is located right next to the Omniversum.
In this museum for science and culture, you can learn all about what it takes to be an astronaut in an interactive exhibition that will teach you hands-on which skills you need to survive life in space. Keep on reading if you want to find out more!
Exhibition “Reizen in de Ruimte” at Museon
Right when you enter the Museon, you’ll walk into the interactive exhibition ‘Reizen in de Ruimte’ (‘Travel in Space’). Here, you can image -and experience- what it’s like to set off for a new planet.
You get to train your own Astronaut Skills and prepare for the long years of space travel, living on board a spacecraft and eventually preparing a new planet for the arrival of future residents from earth.
Starting on Earth, you can train on a fitness circuit and do technical tests to find out how quick and steady you are at handling apparatus.
Then you move to ground control, where you can put your technical skills into practice. For example, you can learn to telephone communications with astronauts on space missions while operating the instruments to prepare for a launch.
Moving on, you’ll go into actual space travel and find out how to eat, sleep and work on board of a spacecraft. Most fun here? Sitting on the space toilet -of course!
Personally, most interesting for me was the final part of the astronaut experience, as you get to learn all about the conditions needed to live on another planet. This fascinates me so much!
Water, food, oxygen and energy are the basic preconditions of life on any new planet, but you’ll also need a house to live in, adjusted to the new circumstances. How can you shield yourself from space storms and the effects of being so much closer to the sun? The exhibition also shows how to grow plants in space and really lets you think about how you will manage to live on a ‘new Earth’.
The exhibition ‘Reizen in de Ruimte’ (‘Travel in Space’) can be seen until September 1, 2019.
Touch a Real Moon Stone!
As I wrote in my short article about Dutch astronaut André Kuipers opening Museumweek in The Netherlands, you can find a piece of real moonstone at the Museon… and even better: you can touch this 3.8 billion years old piece yourself!
The moonstone was taken during the Apollo 17 mission on December 1972. The Apollo 17 landed in the Taurus-Littrow Valley on the moon on the edge of the Sea of Serenity. Astronauts Harrison “Jack” Schmitt and Eugene Cernan brought more than 740 individual rock and soil samples back from this location.
The small Moonstone weighs 25 grams and is of a basalt type. This is a fine-grained, dark-colored solidification rock rich in iron, magnesium and plagioclase feldspar – a common mineral on Earth. Like many other moon basalts, the stone contains more titanium than normal basalts.
You can see the stone at the André Kuiperszaal of the Museon, which also has some interesting displays and a personal message from the astronaut himself.
Museon Address: Stadhouderslaan 37, 2517 HV Den Haag
Museon Prices: € 13,00 for adults and for children it’s € 10,00 (age 12-18), € 8,00 (age 4-11) or free (age 0-3). Free entrance for “Museumkaart”, “Rotterdampas” or “HollandPass” holders. Combination tickets with Omniversum are € 22,50 for adults, € 15,25 for children age 4-11 and € 20,00 for youth age 12-18.
Museon Opening Hours: Closed on Mondays (open school holidays). Rest of the week from 11 AM to 5 PM
Quick Apollo 11 Facts
What year was the moon landing?
The Apollo 11 rocket landed on the moon in the year 1969.
Which Apollo landed on the moon?
Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. To find out what the other Apollo missions were focusing on before and after the moonlanding, I can recommend checking out this site.
When was the first man on the moon?
The launch date into space was July 16, 1969 (13:32:00 UTC) and the landing back on earth was on July 24, 1969 (16:50:35 UTC). The rocket came into the orbit of the moon on July 19, 1969 (17:21:50 UTC) and left again on July 22, 1969 (04:55:42 UTC). It made 30 orbits in total.
The official Apollo 11 moon landing date was July 20, 1969 (20:18:04 UTC) and they launched again from the moon on July 21, 1969 (17:54 UTC).
How long was Apollo 11 on the moon?
6.5 hours after landing, Neil Armstrong stepped off Eagle‘s footpad and said: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’, Buzz Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spend more than 21 1⁄2 hours on the lunar surface.
The total Apollo 11 mission took 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds.
What was the Apollo 11 mission brief?
The primary objective of mission Apollo 11 was to complete a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961: perform a crewed lunar landing and return to Earth.
To read the complete mission brief, I recommend the website of NASA.
Where can I find more NASA moon landing photos?
Check out the website of NASA for some amazing Apollo 11 photos.
Where can I find more moon landing footage and Apollo 11 videos?
Which other Apollo 11 movies are there?
- Apollo 11 (2019)
- First Man (2018)
- Hidden Figures (2016)
- Operation Avalanche (2016)
- The Last Man on the Moon (2014)
- Moonshot (2009)
- In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)
- The Dish (2000)
- Apollo 11 (1996)
- Moonwalk One (1971)
Disclaimer: Me and my dad were kindly invited to celebrate the apollo 11 anniversary with a visit to the special media screening by Omniversum The Hague. All options are, as always, 100% ourselves.