Public Meeting Tuesday 23rd July 2019

Saturn rocket

Saturn rocket

The Apollo 11 Saturn V space vehicle lifts off on 16th July, 1969 from Kennedy Space Centre’s launch complex in Florida.

(Source: Getty Images)

The ‘Apollo 11’ crewed Moon landing programme

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American, landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56:15 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon’s surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours 31 minutes on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base before lifting off to rejoin Columbia in lunar orbit.

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 at 13:32 UTC, and was the fifth crewed mission of NASA‘s Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, and the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages – a descent stage for landing on the Moon, and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.

After being sent to the Moon by the Saturn V’s third stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into Eagle and landed in the Sea of Tranquility. The astronauts used Eagle‘s ascent stage to lift off from the lunar surface and rejoin Collins in the command module. They jettisoned Eagle before they performed the maneuvers that propelled the ship out of the last of its 30 lunar orbits on a trajectory back to Earth.[4] They returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space.



Our next public meeting –

This Tuesday 23rd July 2019.

Our telescopes will be operating from 6pm.


Jupiter, and Saturn with its beautiful ring system should be seen, as well as some of their many moons. Saturn will be low in the eastern sky at 6.30pm. Planet earth’s moon will not be visible. Its Last-Quarter phase is this Thursday 25th July.


At 7.30pm our on-screen presentations will be –

The ‘Apollo 11’ Moon landing programme 50 years ago

We take a look at this remarkable feat, including a salute to the then-new technology developed exclusively for this mission.


We seek members who can help at our meetings

The committee seek help from members to assist in the operation of the society. Our telescope viewing facility has become very popular with record numbers of groups coming to view the sky. Even though this is excellent for our income, the extra activity this winter has challenged the capability of committee members to effectively provide the required service to members and customers.

Accordingly we seek members who have an interest in helping with either or both of the required roles –

Supper Duty   fella

Consists of preparing and cleaning up after supper at our public meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, except January. The role, that starts at approximately 7.15pm, consists of carrying the supper equipment from the observatory to the kitchen; turning on the zip; setting out cutlery, crockery, biscuits, coffee and milk; making the tea; serving supper; cleaning up and washing the dishes; and return to storage in the observatory. With the exception of the last activity, the job is completed before the end of the evening’s program, which is usually 9.30pm approximately.


Telescope Assistance  telescopes

Consists of monitoring telescope operations at telescope viewing events at the observatory. The role function is to arrive approximately half an hour before the scheduled arrival of the visitors, usually children and their accompanying adults. Assistance is required with – setting up the telescopes for viewing, helping the children at each telescope as they climb a ladder to view through the telescope, dismantle the telescopes and place in storage, help with the astronomical presentation in the hall.

We operate group viewing events from the end of daylight saving to when daylight saving starts again. Circumstances that determine the timing of events vary widely. Considerations such as availability of suitable celestial objects to view, day and time each group can visit, the availability of our hall (we share tenancy with nine other organisations, approximately), and the simultaneous availability of committee members has to be factored in. The earliest starting time of an event is 5pm, and the latest closing time is usually no later than 7.30pm. These times are approximate. Occasionally we hold a public viewing evening which may continue later into the evening, but special arrangements are organized for these events.

Volunteer numbers sought

Supper: chef

Currently only one volunteer for supper is required on each of the two Tuesday meetings per month.

Telescope viewing: During the non-daylight saving period, from none to two group viewing events might be booked each week. Volunteers required for each event may vary from none to three, dependent on the number of children and adults arriving, and the availability of committee members. The greatest need is of volunteer assistance with telescope operations, but only for the three winter months.


We envisage setting up a schedule of volunteers for supper and telescope viewing. The schedule will be published in advance so flexibility will apply to facilitate substitutes if a volunteer cannot attend on the scheduled dates.


So there we have it. In the first instance would members who wish to volunteer for either or both of these roles please register with the secretary at –

Thank you.


Our next public meeting –

Viewing – both astronomical and on-screen

Tuesday 23rd July at 6pm.

Fergusson Park Observatory, Tilby Drive, Matua, Tauranga.


On-screen program at 7.30pm –

The ‘Apollo 11’ Moon landing programme 50 years ago


Admission to our meetings –

Door entry $5.

Members & children free.

Payment by cash only.

No EFTPOS facility available.


Annual subscriptions are due –

$30 each adult

or $40 each family

$10 students.

Payment on-line or

cash at meetings.

No EFTPOS facility available.


On-line payment is easy, to –


Bank account number

03 0435 0659752 00

Please indicate

“Subscription” and your name.

Once payment is received your nametag(s) will be available at subsequent meetings.



Telescope viewing possible only with zero or minimum cloud cover.


Happy skies everyone.


Kevin Patmore


TAS large



Affliated With:


With funding support from:


Slooh Space Camera


NASA astronomy picture of the day