Book Mania

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hello Spring Moon

Lunar Stofler Region - ETX90 Photo
Well, the winter of 2013 is easing off, so I'm getting mentally prepared for another observing season. I know -- if I wasn't so frail of spirit, I'd have observed through the winter on nearly every possible occasion. But I just couldn't get worked up to brave the cold this year.

I'll start lightly, by observing one of my favorites, the moon. I love looking at the ever changing views of the craters, like those of this photo from my ETX 90 photos page. The lighting variations of the countless craters bring up fantastic details each time I look. But this year will be special, at least for me. We just lost one of my most admired space pioneers in 2012, that being Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. He along with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were the courageous astronauts that rode Apollo 11 all the way to the moon, with Armstrong and Aldrin descending to the lunar surface.

If you're old enough, you likely remember where you were and what you were doing on that momentous occasion. I remember precisely what I was doing. I had just graduated college with my science degree, and was thinking what a lucky break it was that just as I was poised to begin my career, we were landing on the moon. I thought my science future looked exceedingly bright.  Ah, the lamenting of youth.

My parents only had the one TV, and it was black and white at that. But they knew how much the moon landing meant to me, having bought me telescopes and astronomy books since my grade school days. So they let me watch the entire landing broadcast. I was glued to the set, and took a few Polaroids of the TV screen as history unfolded.  I'll never forget it -- it was one of the biggest thrills of my life.

I don't think I'll be able to look at the moon again, now that we're moving past that exciting era, without thinking of Neil Armstrong and his crew.  Those memories will definitely heighten my excitement each time I take on the wonders of our nearest neighbor, whether it be with my modest 60mm telescopes, or my six inch reflectors.

If you haven't looked at the moon in awhile, I suggest you study up a bit on the Apollo 11 mission and the excitement it caused, then see if you aren't a bit more inspired to get out there and give your eyes the unparalleled treat of the moons mountain ranges, craters, mare, rilles, and shadows. You can start that study of Apollo 11 with the following excellent book:
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover))