Blast off with these TV specials celebrating 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing

Talk about a TV moment.

It’s been 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission landed astronauts on the moon. Since then, popular culture has been filled with shows and movies exploring aspects of that remarkable time, and the anniversary of the landing is no exception.

TV networks are rolling out specials, miniseries and movies that are sure to please even the casual stargazer. And new archival video and audio provide a unique addition to many of these productions, giving all of us a chance to see this half-century-old event in a different way.

So blast off with these awe-inspiring TV shows to celebrate the anniversary of the moon landing.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in a scene from the Neon/CNN Films' "Apollo 11." (Photo: NEON/CNN FILMS VIA AP)

Step it up

On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the moon for the first time, while pilot Michael Collins orbited in the command module. Relive that history Saturday (July 20) with specials that have a little something for everyone.

Discovery Channel has “Apollo: The Forgotten Films” (8 EDT/PDT), which includes footage from the National Archives, NASA Research Centers and news footage from the landing. That’s followed by “Confessions From Space: Apollo” (10 EDT/PDT) with interviews from astronauts Aldrin, Collins, Apollo 16’s Charlie Duke and more.

MORE:Complete coverage on the moon-landing anniversary from Florida Today

CNN airs documentary “Apollo 11” (9 EDT/6 PDT), which includes new archival footage and audio to tell the story of the moon landing. And BBC America pulled together news footage from around the world as well as NASA footage for its special, “Moon Landing Live” (9 EDT/6 PDT). 

HBO2 has set a a marathon of 12-part miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” (8:45 a.m. EDT/PDT) about the American space program from the Mercury Seven astronauts to the final Apollo lunar landing in 1972. The 1998 series was co-produced by Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. Also check out the 2018 biopic “First Man,” which makes its HBO debut (8 EDT/PDT), and stars Ryan Gosling as Armstrong.

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in "First Man." (Photo: DANIEL McFADDEN/UNIVERSAL)

PBS, to the moon! 

PBS is known for its documentaries, and the moon-landing anniversary is no exception.

As part of its “Summer of Space,” the network  plans several specials throughout the month, including “8 Days: To the Moon and Back” (Wednesday, 9 EDT/PDT, check local listings), which combines audio and new archival footage with computer graphics to recreate the moon landing.

And check out “American Experience: Chasing the Moon,” a three-part series about the space race that eventually led to Americans walking on the moon. “Antiques Roadshow: Out of This World” is a special edition of the fan favorite that includes space-related finds.

RELATED:NASA is moving quickly to return to the moon. Will it work?

And if you want to venture beyond the Apollo 11 mission, explore the first quest to circle the moon with “NOVA: Apollo’s Daring Mission” (Tuesday, 10 EDT/PDT) about the astronauts and engineers involved in the Apollo 8 mission. “POV Shorts: Earthrise” (Wednesday, 10:30 EDT/PDT) looks at the first image of Earth from space, taken in 1968 during that Apollo 8 mission.

Stay tuned for “Ancient Skies” (8 EDT/PDT) and “NOVA: The Planets” on July 24, which explore what’s beyond on our moon.

Need some more shows to get your moonshot fix?

  • “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future” (Science, Thursday, 1 EDT/PDT) is a two-hour live special hosted by Adam Savage at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The show, part of a three-day festival at the museum to celebrate the moon landing, also includes live shots from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Kennedy Space Center in Florida and a visit to Neil Armstrong’s hometown in Ohio with a guest list that includes former and current NASA astronauts.
  • BBC America airs “Wonders of the Moon” (Friday,  10 EDT/PDT), exploring detailed imagery from the moon and how it affects life on Earth.
  • The cable network also hosts a Space Week leading up to the anniversary that includes marathons of “Doctor Who” and three “Star Trek” series. There will also be space-themed movies, including the 1983 hit “The Right Stuff” (late-night Tuesday, 1 a.m. EDT/PDT), starring Dennis Quaid and Ed Harris as astronauts in NASA’s Project Mercury program.

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