Archive for the ‘Apollo’ Category

Lunar Eclipse

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Last night was spent collecting Moon Memories and trying to watch an lunar eclipse that was mainly hidden by annoyingly wispy clouds that you could almost see through!

It was a partial eclipse last night – the sort that turns the moon red – a blood moon – I saw a slither of fire-ruby red in Gloucester Park but it was smudged but the cloud and laying just above the noisy blinking lights of the fair ground.

This particular lunar eclipse actually started before the moon had risen in the sky – or at least in this part of the world that was the case. I could see friends posting fabulous pictures of the moon rise just a few miles over from where I stood – this was frustrating but kind of the way it is with astronomy to be honest.

I went home dejected but then managed to capture this image even with our kitten Potassium trying her best to cat-eclipse the moon for me!

Lunar eclipse partial 16th July 2019 Gloucester

We were going to get the telescope out and have a proper bash at getting some awesome photographs but the clouds never cleared enough to make that possible. In the end I managed to snap a few of the Earth’s shadow leaving the lunar surface with my hand held camera – I didn’t even have the tripod and there wasn’t time to play very much with exposure lengths before it was swallowed once more in a thicker more menacing cloud bank.

Cloud bank swallowing the eclipse

The Space Race

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

A simplified timeline summary of the Space Race between the Americans and Russians.


4th Oct 1957 Sputnik-1 first artificial satellite

3rd of Nov 1957 Laika the dog went into space

12th April 1961 Yuri Gagarin was the first Earth orbit


1958 -1963 Project Mercury 6 successful flights

1961 -1966 Project Gemini

1961-1972 Project Apollo put 12 astronauts on the moon

From this you can see that the Russians had a strong and early lead with some humiliating and disastrous moments for the US. But the Americans sort to level the playing field realising that they could not play catch up to the Russians so they simply picked a target that could not use the technology as either nation had it. That challenge was going to the moon and it needed a lot of money and good engineers – engineers were sourced from all over the place not just from within the US.

The Russians started well but then saw their efforts dissolve into failures along the levels of the Americans and so dove tailing the two nations space explorations stories.

These moments in history have inspired countless pieces of music, poetry, art and fiction and film.

Boom We Are Going To The Moon!

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

50 years ago three men Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Micheal Collins where propelled out of the Earth’s atmosphere and out of it’s gravitational embrace to start their journey to the Moon.

But where did the journey start?

Probably over 1000 years ago in China where the first primate rockets where used for decorative purposes i.e. firework displays at celebrations and used in warfare – I believe one of the early pioneers in this was a female general who was fighting for her peoples freedom. The rocket was born but it was a rather slow burn with communications slow to non existent and ancient China’s insular attitude meaning that things that might have been traded for just weren’t. As a result it took about 500-600 yrs for Europeans to cotton on to the technology and then we had some barely effective flint lock guns and of course our cannons which wreaked havoc in the Americas.

Rockets of course are not the only way to get up into the sky there are many other ways including balloons and wings. We have tried them all and some we are yet again revisiting such as balloons to space! But for the moon landings rockets were the thing.

Rockets and an unofficial-official arms race between the United States of America and the the Soviet Russian communists conglomerate of countries which was known at the time as the USSR. Both space faring nations based their technologies on the dire war works of the NAZI’s as many of the engineers sort escape during or with hindsight from the NAZI regime – there is a whole can of worms in this that will be addressed in much detail later on.

For centuries rockets where nothing more than fancy lights in the sky or the primitive for runner to guns but then the industrial revolution and victorian era happened and machines became something more and missile and tanks were born in time for the early 20th century.

But rockets were as such still a toy for the rich along with ballooning and those new fangled motorised carriages. There were rocket enthusiast clubs all over the place in the UK they could only really theorise due to our laws on explosives but the Americans got to play and the Germans…. well the Germans after World War 1 where banned from developing weapons except rockets were so… not considered a threat that they were not mentioned.

The Germans therefore poured all their resources into developing this avenue of potential weaponry – the US went for nuclear weapons with far reaching and devastating affects. Germany built rockets – rockets that were the V2 rockets that landed on London during the blitz. The lives lost there would cause anguish for those who later found themselves in the US working with the very man who had designed them, making larger versions in fact – giant ones to carry people to the moon.

SO a vile piece of weaponry was a stage in the evolution of technology that took a plaque of peace up and onto another planet where it declared it was for all mankind. There is a sort of beautifully harsh juxtaposition here – something that encapsulates the issues humanity has in many areas. This mix of the good and the bad and the shifting of those concepts and humanity striving – striving striving but sometimes in destructive spirals that none the less spit out something that becomes a savour or just a stepping stone to something that is not horrific but beneficial to all.

Most things are sadly birthed in blood – it is that origin of our new endeavours we need to change.

Humanity went to the moon and saw itself for the first truly for the first time.

A Picture…

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Pictures are amazing things – they predate writing and indeed writing can be seen as coded pictures. People have been drawing the moon for a long long time, they have created maps and stories and even made the moon a character themselves on those stories.

We are fortunate that the moon landings where recorded via photos, photos that themselves have inspired new stories be those stories scientific or flights of fantasy and they are certainly an interesting debate point.

And though as a geologist – especially one who loves impact craters – the moon surface is fascinating in all it’s pox marked glory – the image that really really hit humanity between they eyes was taken just before the landings on an earlier mission.


By NASA/Bill Anders – This is a retouched picture, which means that it has been digitally altered from its original version. Modifications: rotation, cropping, level adjustment, dirt removal. Modifications made by Earthsound. The original can be found here., Public Domain, Link

This image more than any other throughout the history of humanity has allowed ourselves to see who we are for the first time. There we are hanging there in space, in all that void, in that dark nothing, a little oasis of life as seen from a rocky desolate world, a world far more normal than our own. And we are all there – together – part of it and intricately interlaced into it’s systems, we are it and we rely on it.

It is US.

The image was taken by the Apollo 8 crew and is a view that very few people have ever actually witness and yet through the medium of photography we have all seen it!

Breakfast Time!

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

At about 4 am for the American Astronauts on the 16th of July 1969 they were awoken to a day that would take them from the surface of our world and up into the unknown of space. Though not the first people in space or even the first Americans they were destined to step onto another world – a world they were not sure was survivable.

This epic adventure had had more than a rocky start and would have many a hiccup to come.

They sat down to steak and eggs.