Independence Day has passed and Labor Day isn’t until September, but late July and August still have holidays to celebrate and learn about. Below, we share a few lesser-known summer occasions along with ideas for how to observe them!
July 20 - Space Exploration Day
Also known as Moon Day, Space Exploration Day commemorates the date that humankind first walked on the lunar surface in 1969. Of course, reaching that day was no easy feat. President John F. Kennedy, launched the Apollo Space program in 1961, with a goal of putting Americans on the moon by the close of the decade. By 1964, US citizens were seeing the moon’s surface up close on their TVs via images transmitted from Ranger 7, NASA’s unmanned probe. In 1968, Apollo 8 orbited the moon 10 times with astronauts aboard, before finally, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 brought astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. to the lunar surface. The Apollo program came to an end in 1972, although NASA continues to study and explore our neighboring planets, their moons, and the stars beyond them!
- Enjoy the moon, stars and the night sky with binoculars or a telescope if you have one.
- Take a virtual tour of the National Air and Space Museum.
- Follow NASA on Facebook or Instagram for all the latest on space exploration.
July 24 - Amelia Earhart Day
July 24 is the birthday of Amelia Earhart, a trailblazing American aviation pioneer who inspired people around the world and wrote best-selling books about her experiences. Her records and accomplishments include:
- 1st female pilot to go above 14,000 feet (1922)
- 1st woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean (1928)
- 1st woman (and the 2nd person) to fly the Atlantic solo (1932)
- 1st person to fly the Atlantic twice (1932)
- 1st woman to receive the US Distinguished Flying Cross, a military honor awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement in an aerial flight. (1932)
- 1st woman to fly nonstop, coast-to-coast across the US (1933)
- 1st person to fly solo from the Hawaiian islands to the US mainland (1935)
- 1st person to fly solo nonstop from Mexico City to Newark, New Jersey (1935).
In 1937, Earhart attempted to become the first woman to fly around the world. After setting out from Miami with her navigator, Fred Noonan, she made it two-thirds of the way before disappearing over the Pacific Ocean. Today she continues to be remembered for her groundbreaking accomplishments and feats of courage.
- Check out a book about or by Amelia Earhart or spend some time learning more about her online, including reading up on the many theories around her disappearance.
- Research other women aviation pioneers like Bessie Coleman and Louise Thaden.
Aug 11-13 - Perseid Meteor Shower Peak
The Perseid Meteor Shower is a summer favorite for many, with up to 40 to 60 meteors per hour expected to be visible (weather permitting!) during this year’s peak on August 11, 12 and 13. In addition, meteors will be visible starting July 17 and may be seen for around 10 nights following the peak. So what are you seeing during this meteor shower? Every year, Earth crosses the path of the Swift-Tuttle Comet debris tail. As debris from the comet’s orbit hits Earth’s upper atmosphere at over 130,000 MPH, we witness that debris burning up as meteors above Earth’s surface. While you can catch some sightings earlier at night, the best time for viewing is after midnight, so consider a daytime nap if you want to take in the full glory of this event. Also, since meteor showers can include lulls, aim to set aside at least an hour of skywatching time.
- Grab a blanket or reclining chair, find a dark, open sky, and enjoy time under the stars with family.
August 15 - National Honey Bee Awareness Day
This day is about acknowledging the importance of one small but important creature – the honey bee. Created in 2009 by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, National Honey Bee Day celebrates the hardworking beekeepers (and bees!!) who bring us delicious honey for our meals, desserts and beverages. Honey bees also pollinate 80% of the fruits, vegetables and seed crops grown in the US. To produce just one pound of honey, a hive of bees may have to travel 55,000 total miles and collect nectar from two million flowers. Because bees use nectar from plants to create honey, the flavors of honey can take on the flavor of the plants around them. Beyond its taste, high-quality honey may have health benefits, including improving eye health and cholesterol levels while decreasing your risk for heart attacks, strokes and some cancers. As far back as Ancient Egypt, it was also applied topically to help heal wounds and burns.
- Spread wildflower seeds or plant other flowers that will support the honey bees.
- Enjoy some honey on your toast, in your tea or in a sweet treat.
- Purchase a jar of local honey for yourself, a friend or a family member.
Remember, even as you’re working toward your professional and academic goals in one of our programs, you can still make time for fun and find ways to celebrate and enjoy these summer months!