Apollo Fever: Five Magazine Specials

Here at Space Cat Press, we’re super-excited by the coming 50th anniversary of the lunar landings on Sat. 20th July (GMT). This blog kicks off a series of reviews of books, films and TV shows that relive the adventure. So if you’re looking for some light reading – with awesome photos– here’s FIVE magazines you can pick up from newsstands right now.

Astronomy Now: Apollo 50th Anniv. Special July 2019
The main Apollo article is a minute-by-minute account of launch day from the viewpoint of astronauts in the cockpit and ground control staff. Very immersive with fascinating detail. Another article unpacks the ‘drama-filled descent’, exploring how 26 year-old Steve Bales, a NASA guidance officer at Mission Control, dealt with a computer alarm aboard Apollo that almost saw the mission aborted before it landed. It’s nail-biting stuff and reminds us how young many of those NASA staff were. Alongside technical features for astronomers, it encourages amateur star-gazers to locate Apollo landing sites on the Moon from our own back-gardens. Plus, you get jaw-dropping images of nebulae and maps of July’s Night Sky.  A glossy collector’s edition, good value at 130 pages for £5.50.
Radio Times Reprint of 1969 Pull-Out Supplement    
Maybe you’re old enough to remember the fuzzy b/w pictures of Apollo landings. For me, the rumbling tank that teachers wheeled into our primary school hall was probably my first sight of a TV. Quite as extraordinary as men on the moon. So I was delighted to see the Radio Times reprint their original pull-out supplement from July 1969. It’s all dense prose with groovy space-fonts and what looks like hand-coloured photos. Alongside this, they interview an 82-year old James Burke about his experience of presenting the countdown both from Heuston and then live all night in a BBC studio. Check out their website too for listings of a tidal wave of Apollo-related programmes moving towards the anniversary. £3.00. https://www.radiotimes.com/

Sky at Night Magazine: The Apollo Story
Definitely an Apollo geek’s choice. It is packed with beautifully presented accounts of every single Apollo mission, including 1-6, the unmanned missions. It even sketches how the Space Race got started. But if you want the inside story of each Apollo crew, those mission badges and all the low and high points – this is the one. Stuffed with behind the scenes detail and astronaut’s comments. A bumper issue at 114 pages for £9.99.
Sky at Night Magazine: July 2019 Edition
A regular edition featuring articles on 6 lunar landing sites and Apollo’s legacy. The lead story, ‘‘The Forgotten Mission to Mars’, outlines a plan Wernher von Braun pitched to NASA in 1969. Clearly it never happened but chimes with current NASA plans to return to the Moon and use a moon-base as a springboard to Mars. Don’t miss their piece on this month’s partial lunar eclipse, nicely timed for Tuesday 16th July. With clear skies, we should get decent views in UK by avoiding streetlights. What better way to mark the lunar landings than with some spectacular Moon-gazing? £5.50 for 98 pages.

Man on the Moon 50th Anniv. BBC Science Focus vol. 15
This collector’s edition is organised into 3 sections: PREFLIGHT, TOUCHDOWN and RETURN. ‘Pre-flight’ explores the darker Cold War context that begot the Space Race. Kennedy’s Sept. 1962 speech is reprinted in 5 pages of quotable rhetoric: ‘We choose to go to the Moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard’ etc. Pleasingly, it celebrates the women behind the lunar landing, including those Mercury 13 astronaut-trainees who would be denied a place in NASA’s programme, despite outperforming the men. There are nifty diagrams of lunar modules (so cramped), rockets and space-suit engineering. Neil Armstrong calmly relives the tricky descent to the Moon’s surface. It recaps experiments Apollo 11 astronauts undertook there – because, yes, there was science too. They even find room to debunk ‘faked Moon landing’ conspiracy theories before interviewing today’s scientists on ‘Why We Need To Go Back’. 98 pages, beautifully designed, for £9.99.
So that’s all folks. Next week, we’ll review 5 Apollo screenings: TV, movies & podcasts. Don your goggles!

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