Lift off: The Dish gears up for open days to celebrate 50 years since moon landing

It's been 50 years since the Parkes Radio Telescope helped send images of man's first steps on the lunar surface around the world and the CSIRO are planning to celebrate in style.

Open days at the observatory are planned for the weekend of July 20 and 21 and all are invited.

CSIRO Parkes Radio Observatory Operations Scientist John Sarkissian OAM said staff are looking forward to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

"To celebrate that significant milestone we are inviting the public to come along and celebrate with us," he said.

"We'll be opening up the telescope for free tours so people can come inside and see the control room, and get a feel for the excitement that was here on the day.

"We'll also have lots of other activities for the entire family inlcuding telescopes set up on the lawns of the observatory where people will be able to view the brightest stars and planets in daylight, live music of the period, space face painting, science activities, vintage car displays, roving performers and delicious food."

Highlights of the weekend will be a special outdoor screening of The Dish on Saturday night which will be introduced by actor Roy Billing who played the Mayor of Parkes in the film.

On Sunday special guest, Adelaide-born NASA astronaut Dr Andrew Thomas will lead the official ceremony and speak on all things space.

Visitors will also be able to watch the broadcast of the moon landing as it happened on July 21, 1969.

John said not only is it an historic anniversary for the Parkes Radio Telescope where they can celebrate what they've done in the past, but it also acts as a great opportunity for them to talk about the future and what lies ahead.

"I was six years old at the time [of the moon landing], I was in first class in Sydney sitting on a cold wooden floor watching it on TV," he said.

"I remember it very clearly. To be here now for this 50th anniversary is very special.

"When the Parkes telescope was built in 1961 it was the second largest but most advanced radio telescope in the world. It was only meant to have a lifetime of 20 years but now we are 58 years in operation and we are still arguably the finest single-dish radio telescope in the world."