The Moon – ‘hand-held’ Canon SX-50 camera – 20x, 50x optical and 200x digital zoom – shot from next to Sylvia Beach Hotel, Nye Beach
Had I remembered to bring a tripod we might have been able to make out Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s bootprints on the lunar surface and the American flag they left flying up there on July 29, 1969.
My, how this country has changed since those bright, confident and heady days, 44 years ago. First-Human-on-the-Moon and Apollo 11 Mission Commander Neil Armstrong, with his co-pilot Buzz Aldrin, put their Eagle Lunar Module down on the surface of the Moon with those infamous words, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Houston Control replied: “Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys down here about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”
Armstrong was the first of the two to set a human foot on the moon, this picture (left) was taken by Aldrin after Armstrong had just uttered another timeless statement about American technological power, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong took Aldrin’s picture next and then the two conducted two and a half hours of lunar experiments – even brought back a box ‘o moon rocks on their return home.
Lesser heralded Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins remained inside The Eagle making sure everything kept working so they could rocket back up and rendezvous with their orbiting Apollo spacecraft.
After their safe return to Earth, Armstrong stayed employed with NASA for about 18 months. After that he taught aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Neil Armstrong died in August of last year at the age of 82 from complications from heart surgery.
Buzz Aldrin, by far the more flamboyant of the two, returned to U.S. Air Force life as Commandant of the Air Force’s Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Aldrin today is a tireless promoter of human space exploration and says the country should build a space port on the moon which could someday launch regular space trips to Mars “Where humans could live for years, human beings becoming perhaps a two planet species,” he said.
This reporter had the distinct privilege of shaking hands with Mr. Aldrin at a 2009 appearance at an overflow crowd at the Carson City Community Center, just south of Reno. He was the guest of Western Nevada College’s Astronomy Department which used the occasion as a very successful fundraiser for the college’s acquisition of an additional radio-telescope aimed at regions of space where intelligent life could very well be looking back at us.