Monday, July 20, 2009

40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moonwalk

My friend Paul Gordon is a co-blogger today:
40 years ago today, on July 20, 1969 an American set foot on another world.

Science fiction had long predicted it, but I don't recall it ever predicting that we would go (multiple times), get bored, and never go back.

In 1972, I had the unforgettable privilege of watching the liftoffs of Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 from a bit over 12 miles away on the beach at Titusville, Florida.

At that distance the curvature of the Earth would cut off a portion, except for the fact that the launch pad is placed on top of a ramp that rises about four stories and the pad itself probably adds another 10 feet or so, making the whole thing visible.

Hold your thumb and forefinger a few millimeters (or 1/8th of an inch) apart, at arms length and imagine a skinny white splinter held vertically between them. That's what a Saturn V looks like at that distance to the naked eye. A pair of 7x50 binoculars, or a 300 mm telephoto lens does a decent job of showing it.

When it fires up, it takes a full minute for the sound to reach you, and it's a low-pitched rumble that is felt as well as heard.

Something I'll remember 'til the day I die.


"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress")

You can feel it from 12 miles away! Imagine that.


Paul Gordon said...

Thanks, Greg.

If I wore a hat or cap, I'd probably be in the market for a larger size. :-)


gcotharn said...

Hey, I'm proud to have a co-blogger.