50 years ago, the Saturn V launched from Kennedy Space Center, carrying three people whose names would forever be etched in the historical record: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin would walk on the lunar surface.
Science fiction sadly lied about everyone else getting a chance to bound about up there – or nip off to Mars for a weekend break. These days, we remain resolutely rooted to Earth. But you can still celebrate humanity’s amazing achievement, by way of this selection of superb goodies.
Lego NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander
You could recreate Armstrong’s iconic “one small step for man” with an inflatable astronaut costume and then bound about in slow-motion. But if you don’t want everyone nearby to slowly back away, try some Lego.
NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander (£84.99) offers a gorgeous brick-based replica of the Eagle lunar module, a lunar surface with craters and footprints, and a couple of astronauts. If you’re more into rockets, grab the 1m high(!) NASA Apollo Saturn V (£109.99), which comes with its own dinky lunar lander.
Should your space dreams be more ambitious than going to the Moon, try Lego’s new Mars Exploration collection (£9.99–£119.99). And if all those sets just gave your wallet a heart attack, there’s the pay-packet-friendly Benny’s Space Squad (£8.99), with its four astronauts, Moon buggy, spaceship, and dollop of 1980s Lego Space nostalgia. Yum!
Skywatcher Heritage 100P Dobsonian telescope
Making a Moon Landing in your living room’s all very well; but when you’re suitably inspired, you’ll want to gawp at the real thing. Ambling outside on a clear night doesn’t cut it with your eyes alone.
Telescopes, though, can be bank-account-mugglingly expensive and complex to use. Not the Skywatcher Heritage 100P Dobsonian (£95). More grab-and-go than home observatory, this table-top delight can be set up in a matter of seconds.
And although you won’t use the Heritage 100P to delve into the deepest recesses of the heavens, it might surprise you. You’ll be able to head far beyond the Moon, for example to gaze at Jupiter’s satellites and Saturn’s rings.
Apps and games for exploring the Moon
Solar Walk 2 (£2.49, Android/£2.99, iOS) lets you explore the solar system from your armchair. Zip about celestial bodies with a tap, and spin the Moon under your finger. Tap the info button to get at useful stats, crack the Moon open to see its innards, and follow the Apollo 11 mission’s path by way of some IAP.
Beyond that, stay informed about whatever’s going on at NASA by way of the suitably named NASA app (free, Android/iOS). And if you want to try your hand at landing on the Moon – and other celestial bodies – have a crack at modern-day lunar lander title Solar Explorer: New Dawn (£2.99, Android/iOS).
Nano1 astronomy camera
A few years back, Tiny1 arrived – a GoPro for stargazers. But creators TinyMOS decided tiny isn’t teeny enough, hence follow-up Nano1 (£303), a ludicrously small snapper for bringing you closer to the night skies.
It’s palm-sized and lightweight, yet perfectly suited to exploring – and capturing – the night sky (and the Moon with an added lens), with its AR star map and astronomy exposure preset.
The tiny snag: the first run sold out. But you can sign up for the next production run this October, and look forward to photographing the Moon with ease once darker nights draw in.
Three superb Moonvies
If the above feels like too much effort – putting together plastic bricks; interacting with apps; going outside – fire up your tellybox for a Moon movies marathon instead.
Kick things off with First Man (buy from £5.99), which digs into the life of Armstrong and the legendary mission that took place half a century ago. Next, look to the future with Duncan Jones’s Moon (rent from £2.49; buy from £5.99). This love letter to classic sci-fi mixes up old-school models, a Moon-based mystery, and an oddball robot AI.
Finally, settle down to watch A Grand Day Out on Netflix, where we discover what you really need to reach the moon is ambition, motivation, a smattering of madness, and an insatiable appetite for cheese.