365daysDate: July 11, 2009

Title: Apollo 11 Through the Eyes of a Young Girl


Podcaster: Nancy Atkinson

Links: Universe Today, Astronomy Cast, Solar System Ambassador program

Description: As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, many people are reminiscing about what happened back in 1969. Nancy shares her remembrances as well as song she wrote about the event, as seen through the eyes of a young girl. Nancy would like to extend special thanks to Jim Feldman for recording and mixing the song.

Bio: Nancy Atkinson is the senior editor for Universe Today, is on the production team for Astronomy Cast, and is part of the IYA New Media Working Group, helping to bring the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast to you every day of 2009. She also is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by, clothing for nerds and skeptics.


Hi, this is Nancy Atkinson, writer for Universe What were you doing in mid-July 1969? As I’m sure you know, we’re about to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. If you were born before that time when we first sent humans to moon and returned them safely to Earth, you likely have a memory of where you were and what you were doing when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins went to the Moon.

I was pretty young, but I remember sitting in front of the television with my sister for almost the entire mission. We were glued there, listening to the commentators every word. I also remember getting an Apollo 11 t-shirt with a picture of the moon and an eagle carrying a flag to the surface, and it was one of my most favorite things to wear.

July of 1969 was truly a momentous and inspirational time.

And if you’ve heard any of my previous podcasts, you probably know what’s coming next. Yeah, I’ve got another song.

This song is one I wrote a few years ago, and it is a retrospective, if not whimsical look at the Apollo 11 mission through the eyes of a young girl. I was inspired to write it after reading a children’s book about Apollo 11 called “The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins” by Bea Uusma Schyffert.

It’s a wonderful book that includes lots of fascinating facts, quotes, checklists, original drawings, and pictures taken both in space and on Earth. It tells how the astronauts prepared for their journey, what they brought with them, and the things they left behind on the Moon. It focuses on Michael Collins and what he did, and what he saw, and the things he thought about in space.

The book brought me back to that time, and how I sat in front of the TV. I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking or the questions I had, but I’m sure there was a lot going on inside my little head, and likely, that event was part of what brought me to where I am today.

I know a lot of people have their own stories of Apollo 11, and I’m grateful to be able to tell mine.
And I’d like to congratulate everyone who worked on the Apollo program, and especially Mike Collins, for their absolutely incredible and inspirational accomplishment.

Who Flies the Ship When Mike Collins Goes to Sleep?

When I was a young girl, I wanted to travel far,
I didn’t like to go to sleep, I was afraid of the dark, but I loved to gaze at the stars.

I remember when one day three men went and traveled far.
Not quite to the stars, they went to the moon,
To see if it could be done.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took the Eagle down to the moon
While Mike Collins stayed in orbit alone to the far side of the moon
No one knew if this would be a giant leap for all mankind
Would the computers fail, would they have enough fuel,
and if they landed what would they find?
But while the whole world and Houston held their breath,
I had something else on my mind….

Hey tell me who flies the ship when Mike Collins goes to sleep,
And won’t he get all lonesome by himself?
Will he have a nightlight when its bedtime at the moon,
And what happens if he sees somebody else?

Well, Neil and Buzz, they landed just fine in the Sea of Tranquility.
They planted the flag and collected rocks and back on Earth we watched it on TV.
Surfing channels was easy back then with just 3 stations, you know.
But in July of ’69 it didn’t really matter ‘cuz they all had on the same show.
So Jules Bergman, Walt Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley
Please tell me ‘cuz I gotta know….


I know everyone remembers the first two men who walked on the moon,
But my hero has always been Mike Collins
The man who went to the far side of the Moon.
All told Apollo flew 11 times with pilots of the command module
Some didn’t have to orbit alone but they all did their job well.
And while it seems that those who walked on the moon got all the glory
Without their pilot who would bring them home?

Hey tell me who flies the ship when the CM pilot goes to sleep,
And won’t he get all lonesome by himself?
Will he have a nightlight when its bedtime at the moon,
And what happens if he sees somebody else?

Hey tell me who flies the ship when Mike Collins goes to sleep,
And won’t he get all lonesome by himself?
Will he have a nightlight when its bedtime at the moon,
And what happens if he sees somebody else?

Copyright 2005 Nancy Atkinson

End of podcast:

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