Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I Still Journey to the Moon

I hope my friends on the Internet are not bored with "zoom lens pictures of the moon" that I keep posting all the time. I'm always thrilled when I can catch a clear shot. Here's our early morning waning moon:

For people of my generation, a view of the topography of the moon brings back childhood memories. We all had our "moon maps" and we knew where our astronauts were going. (I think the "Sea of Tranquility" is just beyond the shadow of this half moon.)

For me, at least, these are memories of wonder and amazement. I was only six and a half years old in 1969 when Neil Armstrong made his "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" and placed his foot on the rocky lunar ground. I remember it all. We watched on television, of course.

My brother and I used to get up early in the morning to watch the Apollo launches. I had models of the rockets and the lunar module, and -- like so many boys in those days -- I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up.

It was the 1960s and America was in tumult. I remember playing in the living room in those days during the evening news and hearing machine guns and words like "Saigon" and "the Viet Cong" and "Cambodia" and "student protests" and "Richard Nixon."

As a child, however, my memory of the time is dominated by the images of the moon, and of the heroic effort of so many people who worked together, made sacrifices, and took incredible risks to make a marvelous journey. I knew nothing of the "space race" or the politics of it all.

It seemed to me that the whole journey to the moon was driven by the desire to see it, to know it better. But it was too enormous to conquer, and so our journey was not about dominating the moon but drawing close to it, so that our astonishment about it could grow.

This is what a little boy remembers, in any case, and what he still feels when he looks up at the sky and sees the moon.