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The Moon

Apollo 11 Astronaut Pays Tribute to Jodrell Bank

19 July 2009

These recordings were made at the Moonbounce event on the afternoon of July 19th. In each case you hear the voice being transmitted, followed a few seconds later by its echo returning from the Moon.
The voice of Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut, bounced off the Moon
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The voice of Professor Stephen Hawking, bounced off the Moon
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One of the first men to walk on the Moon paid tribute to Jodrell Bank astronomers today (Sunday 19 July 2009), at a special Moonbounce event at the Observatory to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings.

Two hundred members of the public attended the momentous event and heard this specially recorded message from the legendary astronaut - the last line of which was bounced off the Moon and received seconds later on the famous Lovell radio telescope:

"Human pioneers are always thankful for the predecessors of information that make what they're doing easier. I send my greetings to those of you, radio astronomers at Jodrell Bank, who paved the way for not just other electronic signals and robots, but us humans to venture outward and explore a close-in portion of the Universe. Thanks very much for your help on this fortieth anniversary of a wonderful opportunity for a few human beings and for the world. Indeed... a small step for some of us and unknown progress for all the rest of us."

Well-known theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking - famous for his best selling book A Brief History of Time - also recorded a special message that was bounced off the Moon. It said:

"The Moon landings were a giant step for Mankind's spread into space."

The messages were just two highlights of a sell-out event held at the University of Manchester-owned facility in Cheshire.

The event included presentations from special guests Professor Colin Pillinger, who worked on the analysis of the Moon rocks brought back during the Apollo programme, and Andrew Smith, author of 'Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth'.

Sir Bernard Lovell, Founder and first Director of Jodrell Bank, spoke about Jodrell's role in the space programme. Mr Bob Pritchard, who was responsible for carrying out much of the space tracking work at Jodrell during the 1960s, also told the story of what happened on that amazing night of July 20th/21st 1969.

Five winners of a special Moonbounce competition run by Jodrell Bank and the Government's 'Science: So what? So everything' campaign in collaboration with the Metro newspaper were given the special opportunity to come up with words they would have used in place of Neil Armstrong's, when he first walked on the Moon.

The winners were:

Jack Walsh (age 6), London - "Wow! The Earth looks amazing from up here. I'm having the time of my life."
Stefan Croker, Manchester - "I stand here not on the dreams of one but the labours of many. We work best when we work together."
Ayesha Ghose (age 6), London - "Wow! I feel amazed and really proud to be the first person on the Moon!"
Raymond Tait, Torquay - "Welcome to the first outpost of the last frontier."
Lydia Stanley, London - "Today the Moon... tomorrow the Universe!"

As they spoke their words were turned into radio signals and, using Jodrell's 32-metre Telescope at Cambridge, transmitted towards the Moon and reflected off its surface. After travelling through space at the speed of light, the returning echoes were caught just a few seconds later using the giant Lovell Telescope and relayed back live to the audience.

Other activities during the day of celebrations included showings of archive video footage about Jodrell Bank's role in the space race.

Notes to editors

Please contact Alex Waddington, Media Relations Officer, 07717 881569 for more information or Dr Tim O'Brien at the Jodrell Bank Observatory on 01477 571321.

The UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) support Jodrell Bank and the Lovell and Cambridge Telescopes through a rolling grant and the e-MERLIN project.

This event formed part of the Government's Science: [So what? So everything] campaign.