Storytelling and the Moon

Earlier this week, I went to the Exploratorium; a San Francisco-based museum where visitors get different perspectives on the world by way of the sciences and the arts. Every week, they open up the Exploratorium for an adults-only event called After Dark, and each one always provides presentations, performances, and such around a different topic. For this week, it was all the science of the different stories that exist regarding the moon.

Before NASA was even a thing, stories and cultural influences revolving around the moon have been going on for thousands of years. From werewolves transforming by the light of the moon, to visualizations of a face or a rabbit on the moon’s surface, to lunar-run calendars, it’s had a big influence on the world. How appropriate it was to hear all this discussed in-depth this week of all weeks, for it’s been 50 years since Apollo 11 went to the moon.

The Exploratorium as a whole has been celebrating this achievement for humanity all month with the Museum of the Moon on display. It’s a traveling exhibit created by UK artist Luke Jerram that’s a smaller, uncanny recreation of the moon. Seeing it on display in the Exploratorium was a sight for sore eyes. Not to mention that it was a surprise beyond obvious reasons. Just last weekend, I learned about this exhibit from the following video from BBC America. Little did I expect to see it with my own eyes a few days later:

In thinking about this anniversary since one giant leap was made for mankind, it makes me think about how even more stories have emerged about the moon in the 50 years since that fateful day; by way of memories of those who remember it. In the case of my dad, he was a kid with his favorite tita, feasting over orange creme sodas and ube ice cream, as they among others watched the phenomenon in the early morning hours from a hotel in the Philippines.

For me, I’m one of those people who has always lived in a world where a flag and footprints are up on the moon’s surface. But that doesn’t stop us from still continuing to be fascinated by it. Learning about Apollo 11 was a highlight when first learning about it in elementary school, and gazing into telescopes to get just a closer look at it remains a distinctive memory. As I was sitting in on the lecture about the stories and influences centered on the moon, what came to mind was also the character of Yue from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and how she became the moon spirit (specifically, this scene):

Yesterday, another memory came to mind on how even though I wasn’t alive when the first humans went to the moon, “Sesame Street” gave somewhat of a glimpse on just how momentous of an event that was, when they did a several episode arch about the first worms to go to the moon (around the 30th anniversary of the moon landing, might I add).

It’s been 50 years since man first stepped on the moon, and stories about the moon have existed for thousands of years before that. On this momentous anniversary, it’s clear as the moon in all of its heavenly glory that the fascination for it will continue for generations to come, with more stories on the way.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” -Neil Armstrong

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