On the 21 July 1969 humankind began a brand new chapter in the history of science and exploration as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon. The iconic Jodrell Bank in Cheshire played a unique role in tracking the Eagle Lander onto the surface.
To celebrate 50 years to the day, bluedot – the award-winning music, science and culture event held at Jodrell Bank Observatory (18-21 July 2019) – has announced the first phase of an incredible Moon-themed line-up to mark one of the most momentous feats in the history of human endeavour.
The ever-popular Dot Talks return with a stellar line-up including Dr Helen Sharman the UK’s first astronaut and the first woman on the Mir space station, veteran broadcaster and science historian James Burke – the BBC’s anchor for the live coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon Landings in 1969 and the UK Space Agency’s human spaceflight expert Libby Jackson, Dr Katherine Joy, Dr Simeon Barber and broadcaster Dallas Campbell presenting an in-depth examination of returning to the Moon and establishing a permanent human presence on its surface.
Throughout the weekend bluedot will relive the Apollo 11 mission in real time with The Moon Landing LIVE using archive audio and video. Festival goers will be able to follow along including all the key moments of entering lunar orbit, the Eagle landing on the Moon and Armstrong’s one small step.
Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics Professor Tim O’Brien will present One Giant Leap: Jodrell Bank and the Race to the Moon, featuring fascinating audio-visual material from Jodrell Bank’s archive. There will also be a screening of Chloe Penman’s documentary about Jodrell Bank’s role in the Space Race and a panel discussion.
Central to the bluedot experience is the awe-inspiring Lovell Telescope. Using audio ‘loops’ created between mission control and the lunar module, fused with signals and recordings generated by Jodrell Bank as it tracked the moon landings, celebrated light artists Illuminos will transform the Lovell Telescope with Lunar Loops Telescope Projection.
Combining graphics and audio, visual representations of these audio feeds will be made to chatter, rise and fall across the epic canvas of the dish culminating in a real-time video mapping of the first step onto the Moon at 3.56am, 21 July – 50 years to the minute from when earth was first seen from the lunar surface.
At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface. A fusion of lunar imagery and moonlight, the installation also features a surround sound composition created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello
Keisha Thompson’s Man on the Moon looks at the Black British experience, masculinity and mental health. These themes are pushed through the lens of Keisha’s relationship with her father, a recluse who has mainly communicated with Keisha through letters, symbols and books.
Keisha has also curated a programme of new
There will also be a host of moon-themed musical performances including US reggae collective the Easy Star All-Stars with a rendition of their first album Dub Side of the Moon, a critically acclaimed reworking of the classic Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon.
The Radio Science Orchestra will perform Music Out of the Moon and classical-infused art rock trio Stems will provide a live score for a trio of George Mélies films – A Trip to the Moon (1902), The Kingdom of the Fairies (1903) and The Eclipse: Courtship of the Sun and Moon (1907).
Families are in for a treat as the space-dwelling Clangers celebrate their 50th anniversary with a special screening and talk featuring Clangers co-directors Joanne Chalkley and Chris Titchborne, series producer and renowned Clangers whistler Dan Maddicott, alongside executive producer and scriptwriter Daniel Postgate, son of the show’s original co-creator Oliver Postgate.
Aardman Animations also has a milestone birthday this year with the 30th anniversary of the first Wallace and Gromit film, A Grand Day Out. Festival-goers will be able to make their own Wallace & Gromit in dedicated workshops with the Aardman team.
Lunar cinema will of course be celebrated with exclusive showings of Moon-based classics including Apollo 13, Moon, The Dish, In The Shadow of the Moon and many more.
Moon-struck night owls will also be able to enjoy a celestial selection of screenings, talks, debates and performances at the Tranquillity Base Late Night Hub featuring a late-night screening of the lauded Apollo 11 documentary film.
bluedot 2019 is the fourth chapter of the ground-breaking event which has seen headline performances from the likes of The Chemical Brothers, The Flaming Lips, Underworld and Jean-Michel Jarre, plus high-profile talks from Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins, Alice Roberts and Dallas Campbell.
Many more artists, installations, talks, panels and happenings will be announced in the coming weeks.
Main image credit: Jody Hartley