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The best Apollo 11 content to read, watch, and experience

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One small step for man, one giant leap for the content production industries.
  • Tim Fernholz
By Tim Fernholz

Senior reporter

Published

You maybe have heard the news? Fifty years ago, three humans set foot on the moon.

There’s a lot of ways to remember Apollo 11—in fact, too many. Too many books, movies, documentaries, and media in general to even know where to begin. Here are some picks to help a general audience plug in to this miraculous human achievement.

Best Reenactment

The impressive work of Apollo in Real Time is a must-see. A collection of historical material including audio, video, and even spacecraft telemetry, this online experience allows you to follow the mission down to the tiniest detail.

You can also watch legendary American newsman Walter Cronkite narrate the experience thanks to CBS News archives.

Best Films

The new documentary Apollo 11, made entirely of archival footage and paced by a terrific electronic soundtrack, is a true marvel of filmmaking. PBS has also released a more traditional documentary, Chasing the Moonthat takes a comprehensive look at the Apollo program. Last year’s First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong, offers a fictional interpretation of the first moon landing, but the real scene-stealer was a theremin.

Best Books

There are so many to choose from and I won’t even pretend to have read them all. Charles Fishman’s latest, One Giant Leap, is a terrific contribution that captures the scramble of the US government to invent space travel on demand. Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins—the one who didn’t set foot on the moon—wrote what is wildly considered the best astronaut memoir, Carrying the Fire. For a taste of his style, read this recent interview. The biography of Armstrong on which last year’s film was based is also worth reading.

And, though it’s not about Apollo 11 specifically, Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff still captures the zeitgeist of the space race better than any other source.

Best Music

Check out the space age jams of Public Service Broadcasting, whose 2014 album The Race for Space combines archival audio with anthemic post-rock. The track “Go!” relies on Apollo 11 recordings, but for my money the album highlight is the Apollo 8 referencing “The Other Side.

Best Articles

Here are some recent, smart perspectives on Apollo 11 and its legacy.

Eric Berger explains why we haven’t gone back to the moon.

Loren Grush details how Apollo’s legacy is holding back the current space program.

Emily Ludolph on why the man selected as the first black astronaut never flew into space.

Marina Coren describes the maneuvers that made Neil Armstrong’s heart rate spike.

Former NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver says a modern-day moonshot would focus on climate change.

There’s also our own field guide to the new lunar economy (Quartz member exclusive) and why NASA is gearing up to go back to the moon.

Best Photographs

Thanks to the fact that most NASA images are in the public domain, there are plenty of incredible photos to admire of the first moonwalkers. The National Museum of Air and Space has collected many here, and the New York Times has assembled some highlights.

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Buzz Aldrin carries scientific experiments on the surface of the moon.

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