Share Your Memories of Watching the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Share Your Memories is a monthly column that invites readers to contribute their recollections of what they watched on television and how they watched it. Topics range from obsolete equipment to network programming practices to specific TV shows and everything in between.

The Eagle Has Landed

Earlier this month, the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, which took place on July 20th, 1969. Hundreds of millions of viewers watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon on television. For those of us who weren’t alive in 1969, it’s difficult to comprehend just how significant the Moon landing was to Americans–and to people all over the world. Here‘s an interesting article from The New York Times examining how Apollo 11 became a “global media sensation” in 1969.

I’ve seen archival network TV news coverage of the Apollo 11 mission, of course. ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted roughly 30 hours to the Moon landing between July 19th and 20th, much of which can be found on YouTube.

Here are five hours of CBS News coverage, for example:

You can also watch 4.5 hours of CBS News Apollo 11 launch coverage from July 16th, 1969.

One thing that sticks out to me is how dull much of the coverage is five decades later. I can’t imagine sitting and watching for hours on end as I’m sure many viewers did. That’s part of the reason I chose the Apollo 11 Moon landing for this month’s Share Your Memories column. I want to know if the coverage did bore people who watched live back in 1969.

If you’re old enough to remember Apollo 11, how much TV news coverage did you watch? How much did your parents? Did you and your family stick with one network from launch to splashdown? Did you watch any coverage in school? In your dorm at college? If you didn’t watch the Moon landing, did you watch something else on July 20th, 1969?

4 Replies to “Share Your Memories of Watching the Apollo 11 Moon Landing”

  1. I was 11 at the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing. I don’t know if this memory is of Apollo 11 or some other space flight but I can remember my family watching The Miracle Worker, probably on NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies. Part way through the movie the network interrupted the broadcast to show about 20 minutes of the astronauts demonstrating what life during a space flight was like. I believe we saw such things as items floating about because of lack of gravity. I don’t remember exactly what we saw, but I was fascinated, because seeing “everyday life” out in space was a rare experience.

    At the end of The Miracle Worker the general consensus was that we’d seen a good movie, plus seeing the astronauts was also wonderful.

    I don’t remember what I thought about the astronauts landing on the moon (except thinking it must have been hard for the astronaut who had to stay in the spaceship) but for some reason I recall watching The Miracle Worker and having it interrupted. At least I think I remember it — sometimes “clear memories” aren’t accurate – – but it appears to have been an important memory for me.

  2. My family may have been the few who didn’t watch the moonwalk of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on CBS.

    We watched it on NBC.

    Although Frank McGee was anchorman of NBC’s overage, I recall that he spoke very little during the moonwalk. Most of that network’s commentary, if my memory serves me correct, was by astronaut Rusty Schwieckhart and geologist Dr. Harold Urey.

    While Chet Huntley and David Brinkley did participate in NBC’s Apollo 11 coverage (the latter was at Cape Canaveral during the launch), they mostly did commentary pieces during the mission and I don’t think either of them appeared during the actual moonwalk.

  3. My Dad’s company moved all of us over to England for the better part of 1969 and the first three months of 1970. I remember the Apollo 11 moon landing was big news in Britain. The actual landing and moonwalk were in the middle of the night over there. But my parents got us kids up so we could see history being made. I was seven and my sisters five and three. I don’t recall who did the commentary over there. At that time England had BBC 1, BBC 2, and one other channel I don’t recall. I remember being interested but I did fall asleep on it. England had some of my favorite kid shows. Thunderbirds, Basil Brush, Doogie (Douglass ?) and the magic roundabout. Plus a show about white horses which had a really popular theme song at the time. Those shows are etched in my brain

  4. We Watched CBS Walter Cronkite Cover Apollo 11 I Learned To Talk, As Well As Sang Hey Jude,When The Astronauts Were Landing On Apollo 11 On July 21,1969.

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