I got the news that Neil Armstrong had died late on Saturday night (around midnight) [Aug. 25th, 2012]. I didn’t see much coverage of his death on the TV news though I might have missed it. I was told that Sky News in the UK did a 10-minute segment on Armstrong looking at his life and achievements.


Astronaut Neil Young who died on Saturday (at least according to NBC!)

When I checked the Sunday newspapers the next day, only one had front-page coverage of Armstrong’s death. Maybe he died so late on Saturday that the newspapers weren’t able to hold the presses and redo their front pages.

But the overall impression I got was that his death went very much under the radar.

More so in the U.S.A. if what I’ve heard is correct. The last weekend in August there seems to be one where a lot of folks head out of town or off to the beach, so the news organizations were somewhat understaffed when the news broke. Added to that is that the staff who were manning the news desks were all young 20- (maybe 30-) somethings. That may account for why NBC announced: “Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on moon, dies at age 82.”

Maybe some ill-educated news monkey got confused between singer/songwriter Neil Young (who is a 66 year old rock star who’s still alive and kicking) and astronaut John Young, who was one of the later NASA moon-walkers (Apollo 16 – who is also very much alive), or maybe someone thought one Neil is the same as any other, or maybe NBC is staffed by buffoons (there is other anecdotal evidence to suggest this may be the case). We’ll never know.

Maybe Neil Young sings about the Moon too much and the assumption was that he sang about his experiences when he walked on the Moon. Then again, maybe the headline could have been: “Astronaut Lance Armstrong, first man to walk on moon, dies at age 82.” Then maybe it might have been “Astronaut Louis Armstrong, first man to play trumpet on moon, dies at age 82.”

Americans aren’t alone in this spoonerism. Actually spoonerism is a generous term here. Reporters simply don’t seem to do basic research and check their facts any more. The Daily Telegraph, in the UK, declared Neil Armstrong to be the “First American woman in space, who showed millions of little girls that they can be heroes,” perhaps confusing Armstrong with Sally Ride, who also died recently. Maybe news of the death reached reporters as they staggered in from the pub and the headline made sense in a fog of booze.

Jeez, doesn’t anyone proof read their material any more?

What’s even sadder is that some Twitter users desperately tried to figure out was who Neil Armstrong was and why he was trending — and other tweeters got angry about it.

Anyway, Armstrong’s death got me to thinking about all the astronauts who were household names in the 1960s and who today’s generation have seemingly never heard of, and what happened to them over the last 40-50 years, and who’s dead and who’s still alive. So I’ve added pages to this blog reviewing their place in the manned space program.


Neil Armstrong Videos:

Filed under: My Personal Astronomy Blog

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