Lunar Landing Night honors the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 with UNO professor


Megan Schneider

The Omaha Storm Chasers celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 spaceflight that landed humans on the moon during a Lunar Landing Night event at Werner Park on July 20. The event included a bobblehead giveaway, space activities and a post-game firework show.

University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) astronomy professor Doug Showell and Omaha Public Schools elementary science teacher Anthony Galdamez led a handful of activities for the space exploration-themed night. Showell and Galdamez are Solar System Ambassadors for the NASA Solar System Ambassadors program, which helps provide space exploration learning at select events throughout Nebraska.

Anthony Galdamez speaks with volunteers. Photo by Samantha Weideman/the Gateway

“I have loved astronomy for a long time,” said Showell. “I was a little young for [the moon landing], but I do remember all the space shuttle launches… and the rover on Mars and all that stuff, so I’ve just been into it ever since then.”

Showell and Galdamez, along with volunteers from the Aim for the Stars Science and Math Camp, passed out NASA stickers and informational brochures and guided patrons through various interactive stations.

Doug Showell, UNO astronomy professor. Photo by Samantha Weideman/the Gateway

Children were encouraged to make their own astronaut badges, land foam toys on a canvas moon map (one of only 50 in the US) and use their creativity to draw different phases of the moon on clear plastic cups.

The giant moon map, scattered with foam toys. Photo by Samantha Weideman/the Gateway

Guests could also simulate a meteorite impact and make lunar landers to drop onto the surface of the (brownie mix and flour) moon.

A meteorite makes its way to the (flour and brownie mix) moon’s surface. Photo by Samantha Weideman/the Gateway

Showell said events like Lunar Landing Night help lead the next generation into the science field.

“It gets all of these little kids into it, then they watch it on TV, where they’ll see more of it,” Showell said. “Hopefully they’ll take the classes in school and just become future scientists.”

The first 2,000 fans who arrived for the Omaha Storm Chasers versus Memphis Redbirds ballgame received a lunar lady bobblehead with the team’s newest mascot, Sue Nami. Fans also saw LEGO sculptures and participated in Apollo 11 trivia.

A volunteer shows off the NASA Apollo Saturn V lego set in all its glory. Photo by Samantha Weideman/the Gateway

Omaha Storm Chasers president and general manager Martie Cordaro said: “Our organization is excited to celebrate the giant leap that was taken 50 years ago by the U.S. space program and its astronauts.”