Thursday, 16 July 2009

16 July 1969

I'm sure everyone's heard by now. Today - 40 years ago - the crew of Apollo 11 set off for their 240,000218,096-mile rocket trip to the moon.

The moon.

Just sit and think about that for a minute. I consider the drive to Falmouth, Cornwall, from north of London quite a long trip. That takes about six hours and is about 300 miles. So imagine travelling to Falmouth 800 times. At speeds of up to 25,000 mph (so you can escape Earth's atmosphere - oh yeah, forgot to say don't take the A303 this time). Imagine leaving everything that's familiar and putting your life in the hands of two colleagues you'll be spending the next ten days with.

Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins. Special people. (And of course the crews of Apollos 12-17).

Launch pad 39A, Cape Canaveral, 16 July 1969. The beginning of a special few days.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
John F. Kennedy, September 12th 1962

The 1960s were great for many things. This must've been one of the greatest. And now, 40 years later, a young blonde lad with a deathwish is going on some crazy journeys of his own under full moon. There's something about the moon. Not sure what that thing is but it affects us all in different ways.

By 2020 we're planning to return to the moon. To show we still can I guess. Perhaps in the mean time we should look up a little more often and appreciate the majesty of our lunar cousin. Especially when she's full.

Next full moon. August 6/7. Look up. Go on, do it.


Sam C said...

I used radio chatter from the Apollo 11 moon landing on a song I made; Lost in Time (Listen over at You can't understand what they are saying as I reversed it but I promise you it's Buzz and Co.
Being my moon friend perhaps you can tell me why the moon seemed so huge, low and orange on Wednesday night?

St Ives Birds & Photo Journal said...

The moon definitely affects people. Apparently more violent crimes are committed around the full moon than at any other time.
I have had trouble for years in sleeping at the full moon as has my mom and my son. I now have blackout blinds and, although it may be psychological, it seems to work. Most of the time.

Rob Self-Pierson said...

Hi Sam - I'll have a listen to that. Thanks for the link! The orange moon would be an atmosphere thing. Sunlight refraction and rays hitting the lunar surface. Often see that at moonrise when the lunisolar (think that's a word) alignments allow. Saw an incredible burning moon rising from the sea in Carmarthenshire a couple of months back. That's a must-see - moonrise from the sea.

Rob Self-Pierson said...

St Ives Birds - great to read your comments. Thank you. Funny you should mention the violence thing as I visited Brighton in March, where the East Sussex police force have pumped money into bobbies on the beat by full moon. Spoke to all the emergency services down there and some claimed links, some said it was a myth. I love how the subjects tears opinion down the middle.

Spoken to quite a few people who struggle to sleep under full moon. And one lady who likes the light of full moon so much she sleeps with her curtains open!

St Ives Birds & Photo Journal said...

She's definitely loony ;-))
I have spoken to people who have had trouble sleeping and asked them if it happened at any particular time of the month. Some of these people realised that it was at the time of the full moon that they were having trouble. Of course this could just be psychological and would need some sort of experimentation to prove it. My own theory is that thousands of years ago as hunter/gatherers we would surely have made the most of the moonlight. Most of our quarry would have been nocturnal and would have been easier to locate by the full moon. Maybe it is still in our genes that we should not sleep at these times?
Personally I have no doubt that the moon affects far more than we realise.

Rob Self-Pierson said...

Enjoying reading your thoughts: very interesting. Predators certainly hunt by full moon because of the increased light - quite possibly there's a human link there too (a genes thing, as you say).

Hope you keep reading the blog - be great to hear your thoughts on the other themes I'm covering through the year that connect to the moon. Lunar gardening next...