The Moon

Last night was the New Moon, and it got me thinking: forty-two years ago, some guys got in a rocket ship and visited the Moon.  They landed on the surface, hung out for three days, then blasted off again and made it back to Earth - alive!

This is the same Moon, 385,000 kilometers away - that's over thirty Earth diameters - that you can look up and see!  And that's crazy.

Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17 are the ones you probably picture when you think 'Moon tourism' - instead of the short walks on the surface in earlier visits, these missions used an enhanced lunar lander module to stay longer and bring more toys, including the iconic lunar rover:
The Lunar Rover and Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin, being AWESOME on the ACTUAL MOON
Wikipedia has a description of the astronauts' activities while they were on the Moon:

I dare you to read these and not feel a sense of amazement.  This isn't a novel, this isn't a movie, this isn't science fiction.  They didn't just come up with an idea to do something so audacious as walking on the surface of the Moon - they actually went up there and did it.

Kids are inundated with overmarketed cultural garbage, but THIS is the sort of stuff they need to hear about.  All of the number-crunching, fill-in-the-blanks education in the world is completely worthless without a sufficiently well-developed sense of wonder.

(an aside: there were supposed to be three more moon landings - Apollos 18, 19, and 20 - but priorities shifted and the money ran out.  President Richard Nixon also wanted to cancel Apollos 16 and 17, but the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director convinced him to let them go forward.  Oh Nixon, if only you had never existed...)

Apollo 15 Commander David Scott, upon stepping onto the Moon's surface:

"As I stand out here in the wonders of the unknown at Hadley, I sort of realize there's a fundamental truth to our nature. Man must explore. And this is exploration at its greatest."

This post researched and prepared by Brandon Curtis; follow him on Google+