Houston, Tranquility Base here, the eagle has landed.

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.

–Neil Armstrong

On August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong joined the infinite. He was 82 years old.

There are 7 billion people on Earth today. Of the these, only 24 could tell you what it is like to visit the moon. Now there are 8. I watched the documentary on Saturday on my pc. Maybe you will watch it too.

LP Narrated by Charles Kuralt, audio clips of news events from 1968

When I was younger, I bought this LP at a garage sale. I listened to it scores of times, the way you listen to things over and over when you are young and have time to do things like that. It helped me fall in love with the thrilling story of the journey to the moon. I might not be able to get to the moon, but I can visit a moon rock on loan at the Arizona State University for free. Google the LROC for more information.

I saw this movie when it came out at the Harrisburg East Mall. I went with my dad. Later he gave me his copy of the book. I read it in one day.

On board the Apollo the astronauts read from the book of Genesis. No matter your belief, the poetry and message is beautiful. 
Bill Anders 
“We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Jim Lovell 
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Frank Borman 
“And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Neil Armstrong, 2007

And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

You can read the text of President Kennedy’s speech in Houston, Texas. I encourage you to read it in it’s entirety. Let me k now what you think of a big goal. What big goals do you have for yourself?

Mrs. Kenney


Dear Students,

Sgt O’Brien sent an email about how beautiful the night sky was in Afghanistan. I wish I could see the brilliance of the stars the way he can.

Milky Way Part II

The night sky over Afghanistan photo by workingindust (flickr)

He said the stars and the mountains were the prettiest he had ever seen. There is no light pollution and the stars look like jewels dumped from a velvet bag. He said the mountains were sharp and bare of vegetation. The combination of the stark mountains, the vast sky and the quiet was awesome.

The closest I can come to Afghanistan is Flickr.

Purple Mountains Majesty

Mountains in Afghanistan, photo by Medic 119 (Flickr)

Looking at these pictures remind me that we live in a desert with beautiful mountains as well. I love how big the sky is here and at night I can see more stars than I could on th East Coast. I want to go stargazing and soak up the big sky.

Night Sky

Phoenix Night sky

Maricopa County shares their stargazing schedule online. The talks are hosted by the husband and wife team of “Star Gazing for Everyone” Tony and Carole LeConte. This hard working couple puts on over 300 shows a year and their passion is star gazing. I read about them online and it’s time to meet them in person. The LeConte’s travel all over the valley visiting regional parks, you can find a show near your house. The shows are best for children aged 6 and up. Look through telescopes (setup for your viewing pleasure) and enjoy a slide presentation under the stars. Learn the names of stars, see the constellations, and listen to stories of the night sky. When visible, view the craters of the moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for your comfort. Information about the Challenger Learning Center of Arizona will be provided. Bring your own binoculars if you have them.

Moon through Stargazing for Everyone’s telescope

The Riparian Preserve in Gilbert has an observatory. The programming is run by the East Valley Astronomy Club. They are open the second Friday of each month or by appointment. This post is East Valley centric, but it should serve to give you an overall idea that star gazing is popular and accessible all around the valley. For more star gazing resources, check out this list of local astronomy clubs.

Librarian Note: My favorite book for children on stargazing is, “Find the Constellation” by Curious George author H.A. Rey.

Another unique to the Valley place to visit is the unwieldy named Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Visitor Gallery, located in the Interdisciplinary A building on ASU’s Tempe campus. You can view a piece of moon rock that is on long term loan and is billions of years old. Kind of awesome and of course, free. This is definitely going on my list of beat the heat destinations this summer.

To get a map customized to the date and location, enter your address on the longitude and latitude finder at touchmap.com. Then plug that data into the Starry Night Sky Chart and voila, a personalized map of the constellations for tonight. If you have an ipad or iphone consider the Star Walk 5 Stars Astronomy guide. It labels the night sky when you point your screen at it. Amazing.

Like a diamond in the sky,
Mrs. Kenney

Activist Note: Phoenix was once considered one of the best places in America to see the night sky. With the increase of  light pollution the folks at darksky.org are fighting to keep our stars bright. I was surprised to learn that digital billboards are sources of light pollution. Dark sky conservation might be an interesting topic for a student science fair project. AZ Republic published a recent article about the fight to keep the skies dark.