A GLOBAL campaign to promote Langholm’s connection to the first moon landing 50 years ago has been launched in the town’s primary school.
VisitScotland, which is behind the campaign to mark Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, introduced the world’s first Highland Coosmonaut to the schoolchildren on Tuesday.
The heroic cuddly toy is the subject of a competition for children all over Scotland to name it.
The Name the Highland Coosmonaut competition runs until midnight on Sunday, June 16.
The coo will be launched 40,000 metres into the stratosphere in a weather balloon in a few weeks to highlight the Scotland is Out of this World campaign.
The campaign will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and US astronaut Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the lunar surface.
Ohio-born Armstrong was said to be proud of his connection to Langholm, ancestral home of Clan Armstrong, and in 1972 he become the first and only freeman of the burgh.
On accepting the honour, Armstrong said: “It’s said that the most difficult place to be recognised is in one’s own hometown. And I consider this, now, my hometown.”
Over the next four weeks the public can track the Coos-monaut’s training regime in a series of films on social media using the hashtag #Coos-monaut.
Karen Vidler, acting depute headteacher, said: “We’re delighted to support this exciting campaign which will honour the town’s famous links to Neil Armstrong during this special anniversary year.
“The competition to name the Highland coosmonaut is a fantastic way to engage children and ignite an interest in our history and ancestors.
“The children are very excited about what the cuddly space adventurer will be called and we look forward to following its adventures.”
The campaign explores Scotland’s links to space exploration, innovation and astronomy and a visitor trail focusing on those links is planned.
VisitScotland has teamed up with Sent Into Space to send the toy into the sky attached to a weather balloon, with footage of its journey released in time for the moon landing’s anniversary.
The Coosmonaut’s spacesuit was made by Vintage Bunting in the Scottish Borders, using Clan Armstrong tartan supplied by Lochcarron of Scotland.
Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins formed the three-man NASA mission which set off on July 16, 1969. On July 20 Armstrong and Aldrin touched down on the lunar surface.
Scotland is Out of this World is among a series of activities to mark VisitScotland’s 50th anniversary.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “The campaign is an opportunity to delve into the past, celebrate our country’s ancestral links to one of the greatest moments in history and explore the innovations and attractions which engage with audiences fascinated with the night sky.”
Ian Martin, project manager at Gilnockie Tower, said: “Gilnockie Tower was opened last year and has attracted visitors from around the world interested in tracing their family roots and history.
“We’re also celebrating the 500th anniversary of the rise of the tower, a truly special year for Langholm and our celebrated links to the most famous Armstrong of them all.”
Lonely Plant, travel guide publisher, has identified dark skies as a tourism trend for 2019.
Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries and Galloway is one of only 15 International Dark Sky Parks in Europe. Moffat is its first Dark Sky Town. It means they are some of the best places on Earth to study the sky at night.
For more on the campaign and to enter the competition, go to visitscotland.com/out-of-this-world