A small step and giant leap remembered


Buzz Aldrin stands on the Moon in this 40-year-old photo. To those of us who watched on TV, it doesn’t seem like the this happened four decades ago, but time flies, right?

There are plenty of sites out there commemorating Man’s landing on the moon, but here’s a update from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter — that shot high resolution images of all of the Apollo landing sites. The lunar module descent stages can actually been seen sitting on the moon’s surface in these images, and NASA says that even higher res images are forthcoming. I guess that the Moon-landing-conspiracy wing nuts will have to come up with some more stories to explain this away.


UPDATE (via http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/07/20/moon-landing-pics-ge.html#)

From Buzz Aldrin’s book Magnificent Desolation:

Neil shot most of the photos on the moon, having the camera attached to a fitting on his spacesuit much of the time while I was doing a variety of experiments. I didn’t have such a camera holder on my suit, so it just made sense that Neil should handle the photography. He took some fantastic photographs, too, especially when one considers that there was no viewfinder on the intricate Hasselblad camera. We were basically “pointing and shooting.” Imagine taking such historic photographs and not even being able to tell what image you were getting. Unlike the digital camera era of today, in 1969 we were shooting on film, typically looking through a small optical opening on the back of the camera that corresponded with what the camera’s lens was “seeing.” But with our large space helmets, such a viewfinder would have done little good anyhow. So, similar to cowboys shooting their sixguns from their hips, we aimed the camera in the direction of what we wanted to photograph, and squeezed the trigger. Given that ambiguity, it is even more of a credit to Neil that we brought back such stunning photographs from the moon.

if you look more carefully at the reflection in the gold visor on my helmet, you can see the Eagle with its landing pad, my shadow with the sun’s halo effect, several of the experiments we had set up, and even Neil taking the picture. It is a truly astounding shot, and was the result of an entirely serendipitous moment on Neil’s part. Later, pundits and others would wonder why most of the photographs on the moon were of me. It wasn’t because I was the more photogenic of the two helmet-clad guys on the moon. Some even conjectured that it must have been a purposeful attempt on my part to shun Neil in the photos. That, of course, was ridiculous. We had our assigned tasks, and since Neil had the camera most of the time we were on the surface, it simply made sense that he would photograph our activities and the panoramas of the lunar landscape. And since I was the only other person there . . .

Ironically, the photography on the moon was one of those things that we had not laid out exactly prior to our launch. NASA’s Public Affairs people didn’t say, “Hey, you’ve got to take a lot of pictures of this or that.” Everyone was interested in the science. So we did the science and the rest of it was sort of gee-whiz. We had not really planned a lot of the gee-whiz stuff that, in retrospect, proved quite important.


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