As this blog is devoted to “space exploration” (with ground based telescopes), I would be remiss in not devoting at least one entry to one of the most compelling achievements in human history. Where were you on July 20,1969 (Assuming you were alive then of course and old enough to be aware of the event)? I was 8 years old at a sleep away camp in Maine. We were scattered in sleeping bags on the floor of the camp’s cafeteria. There was one television in the center of the room. I was pretty close to it. I remember it was late at night. Definitely past our bedtime but the camp counselors let us stay up for it. The only visual I remember was when the lunar module camera came on as Neil Armstrong was climbing down the ladder. Lots of brightness and shadows. I saw movement which looked like an astronaut’s glaringly bright spacesuit against the darkness of the background and the dark shadows below at the foot of the lunar module. The movement stopped and then I heard a voice which was probably one of the most famous one-liners ever: “that’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind”. I don’t think I heard the actual words at the time. Years after that I would periodically watch the documentaries, visit the museums, read the stories and just be in complete awe and amazement at how humans were able to do this with such seemingly rudimentary resources. If you have ever seen the lunar module in person it looks like a 3rd grade diorama project! What it all means to me is that when people have a certain collective will and focus, even the impossible is possible.
The Apollo 11 (2019) documentary produced this year and available on Amazon as a $6 rental I thought was the best beginning to end presentation as it showed much of the video taken during the mission which was unavailable at the time. I enjoyed the prelaunch original CBS broadcast with Walter Cronkite which is on You tube. The commercials, especially, bring you 50 years back in time!
Since the Moon landing 50 years ago, many lament about the fact that no humans have ventured back into space, beyond the space station. However, many discoveries have been made. Space telescopes have contributed enormously to our knowledge of the large scale structure of the universe. Hundreds of planets outside our solar system have been identified. Space probes have landed and explored Mars, visited Pluto and beyond. Of course, no one has been discovered waving back at us yet but perhaps that will come soon.
At any rate, the Moon, which is usually an object that just gets in the way of deep space observations 2 weeks out of every month, has special significance today!
Thanks for reading!