1969 and Worthing Looks to the Moon!

The 50th anniversary of the moon landing occurred this month. Do you remember watching it from Worthing?

Worthing and The Moon Landing

In fact in July 1969 the whole world was looking to the moon! The Apollo 11 space mission from the United States had blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in a race to get the first men on the moon. The space craft landed on the moon in an area known as the Sea of Tranquillity on 20 July. Two of the three astronauts left the spacecraft aboard a lunar module. A few hours, later on 21 July 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong was the first person ever to walk on the lunar surface which he described as 'One small step for man and one giant leap for mankind'.

Millions of people the world over watched this historic moment. Later, his colleague, Buzz Aldrin, stepped onto the moon's surface and the men spent several hours collecting 2.25 kilos of lunar material for analysis.

Local Worthing Astronomical Groups

In Worthing, members of the Worthing Astronomical Society watched the lunar mission with great excitement. The society had been founded just three years earlier and was originally called The Newtonian Observatory Astronomical Society (NOAS) but was renamed in 1982. It is affiliated to the Federation of Astronomical Societies. The society is still thriving and encourages everyone to be interested in astronomy and to observe the night sky.

The society provides equipment to members and acts as a focal point for discussing astronomical activity. The society welcomes new members and meets on the third Wednesday of each month. It has its own observatory near the town and also holds regular meetings there for any special astronomical activity. If you would like further information, you can log on to http://www.worthingastronomicalsociety.org/

There is a second enthusiastic group of astronomers in the town and they are known as the 'Worthing Astronomers' and enthusiastically declare that 'astronomy is for all'. This group was formed 11 years ago in 2008 by a husband and wife team and they warmly welcome anyone who would like to learn more about astronomy. They observe and photograph the night sky and meet regularly in several different halls. Once again, the group has a website with all the information – https://www.worthingastronomers.org.uk/. As well as these two groups, a number of residents are keen amateur astronomers who have their own observation equipment which they use at home.

One of Britain's best loved television personalities was astronomer Sir Patrick Moore (1923 - 2012) whose programme The Sky at Night ran for 55 years and inspired thousands of amateur astronomers. Sir Patrick first became interested in astronomy when he was just six years old. Just after the war he moved to Selsey, just 26 miles from Worthing. He lived there for the rest of his life and it was in Selsey that he wrote more than 70 books on astronomy. He shared his home with a number of powerful telescopes and his beloved xylophone as he was an accomplished player.