Friday morning's memorial service for first moonwalker Neil Armstrong, who passed away last weekend, is strictly private — but his family has specified at least four ways that you can pay tribute to the man who took a giant leap into the cosmos.
First, about that private service: It's due to take place at a club in Cincinnati at 11 a.m. ET. Although admittance is by invitation only, media representatives were told where to gather and who'll be available for interviews. Among the VIPs are NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders (who played a role in taking the famous "Earthrise" picture of our planet as seen from lunar orbit in 1968). U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, is slated to give the eulogy.
NASA photographer Bill Ingalls will be taking pictures and posting them to the NeilArmstrongInfo.com website that's been set up for the family to communicate with the public.
The folks handling the arrangements for the private service report today that "plans are under way to conduct a national service in Washington in the next two weeks" to celebrate Armstrong's life and legacy. In accordance with President Barack Obama's proclamation, U.S. flags are to be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday as a mark of respect for Armstrong, who died at the age of 82 after suffering complications from heart surgery.
Also today, the family posted a statement about other ways to honor the man they've called a "reluctant American hero":
"To everyone who has so graciously remembered Neil Armstrong:
"The outpouring of condolences and kind wishes from around the world overwhelms us and we appreciate it more than words can express.
"Many have asked if a memorial has been designated. If anyone wishes to make a memorial in his name, we suggest, in lieu of flowers, memorials be sent to one of these worthy organizations:
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Neil Armstrong New Frontiers Initiative
PO Box 5202
Cincinnati, OH 45201-5202
Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund
620 E. Colorado, Suite 106
PO Box 4222
Telluride, CO 81435
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund
1801 Alexander Bell Drive
Reston, VA 20191
Cincinnati's WLWT.com reported that Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell will be at Cincinnati Children's Hospital on Friday morning, in advance of the memorial service, to talk about the Neil Armstrong New Frontiers Initiative. The hospital says it hasn't yet decided upon the focus of the Armstrong fund — but during Friday's visit, the astronauts reportedly will be joined by Shane DiGiovanna, a 14-year-old patient who has a rare tissue disease and received a cochlear implant that allows him to hear.
In addition to the three charities listed today, the family has made one other suggestion for honoring Armstrong. Remember? "Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
Friday's moon is a good one to wink at: It's the second full moon in a calendar month, which is known as a "blue moon." The moon won't actually be blue, but if the skies are clear, it should be big and bright and shining all night. If the skies are cloudy, you can still click on over to Slooh.com's online blue-moon-viewing party and wink at the screen. Slooh will pay tribute to Armstrong by focusing remote-controlled telescopes on Tranquility Base and bringing some surprise guests on air.
Other tributes to Neil Armstrong:
- Picturing Neil Armstrong: Joe Latrell tells me that his venture, Photos To Space, will launch a photo of Armstrong on a future memorial rocket flight. "If you would like to participate and send your photo too, just follow these steps: 1) Like us on Facebook. 2) Post your photo to our page. 3.) Share with your friends," he writes. "We'll send up every picture posted along with Neil's on our next flight. There is no charge. It's our way of paying homage to a really great man."
- Back to the moon: Australian astronomy lecturer/writer Dave Reneke proposes that a monument to lunar explorers should be prepared for eventual delivery to the moon's Sea of Tranquility, where Apollo 11 landed in 1969. Reneke also suggests that some of Neil Armstrong's ashes could be interred on the moon. There's some precedent for that: A vial containing the cremated remains of space geologist Gene Shoemaker was placed on NASA's Lunar Prospector probe, which slammed into the moon in 1999.
- What's in a name? There's already an Armstrong Crater on the moon, as well as an asteroid named Armstrong. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says the first crewed spacecraft to Mars should be named the "Armstrong." That's not a bad idea, but there are other possibilities. The name could work as well for a lunar habitat (Armstrong Station?) or even for an Armstrong-class lunar lander (make sure the pilot has the option of taking manual control of the descent, as Neil did in 1969). And it's not too early to be thinking about a commemorative stamp set and/or coin to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing in 2019. Got any ideas? Feel free to pass them along in your comments below.
More about moon memorials:
- The push is on to preserve Apollo 11 base
- Most of the Apollo moon flags are still standing
- Going to the moon? Don't touch the artifacts, NASA says
- Looking back at Apollo 11: Something to celebrate
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.