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50 years on – our link with Apollo 11 Moon landing

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50 years on – our link with Apollo 11 Moon landing

  • Date16 July 2019

The flight to the Moon by Neil Armstrong, Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin and Michael Collins is one of the most significant moments of human history.

Samuel Tolansky FRS former Head of Physics 2

Professor Samuel Tolansky FRS

As the world celebrates 50 years since the launch of Apollo 11 in July 1969, we remember Professor Samuel Tolansky FRS, (1907-1973), former Head of Physics at Royal Holloway who received two five gram samples of moon dust from NASA, brought back by the crew of Apollo 11 for his internationally renowned research.

Professor Tolansky made many television appearances, most notably ‘The Sky at Night’ with Sir Patrick Moore and was a member of the BBC’s presentation team that covered Moon landings.

One of these TV appearances can be viewed on BBC archive footage here, with a delightful reference to the ‘organised curiosity’ of science as the mission to the Moon and the exciting wait for lunar samples is discussed.

A 13km diameter crater not far from the Apollo 14 landing site in the Fra Mauro area of the Moon and was later named after him.

Professor Tolansky was appointed Head of Physics at Royal Holloway in 1947 and the Physics department building was named ‘Tolansky Laboratory’ in his honour. 

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