At 10:56 p.m. EDT on July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. That small step really did represent a giant leap. Perhaps as a species, we’ll never again achieve anything quite so grand or monumental.
If you ventured into your backyard that July night and looked up, you would have seen a crescent Moon like the one shown in the photo above. The phase and libration angle in this picture are nearly identical to what they were on July 20th, 1969, when Armstrong stepped off the LEM and into the history books. The next time the Moon’s phase is similar, get your scope out, scan Mare Tranquillitatus, and reflect on the achievement of Apollo 11 and all that has come and gone since that historic day in 1969.
Using the accompanying photo you can hunt down the location of Tranquillity Base, but none of the hardware Apollo 11 astronauts left behind is anything close to being big enough to show up in backyard telescopes.
NASA recently released the image below, which shows the base of the Eagle lander as imaged by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The lander is the tiny pinprick of light at the centre of the frame, with a short shadow protruding to the right. The area shown in the picture is about 1 kilometer across.