Monday, July 20, 2009

My First Clear Memory: He's Walking on What?

I was five years old at 19:56:15 PDT on July 20, 1969, and I remember seeing that fuzzy picture, and going out side to look at the moon (almost a half, waning, according to the moon phase calculator), and thinking OK, I'm five, I'll believe it. Rockets, spacemen, yee haw. By the time I finished first grade in 1971, I'd read every single astronomy book in the grade school library. I started going to the library in town and getting grown-up books on cosmology, planetary geology, and other fun factual stuff that has pretty much determined my philosophical mind-set to this day.

So for me, tonight, at 10:56pm EDT, it's going to be a special kind of 40 years since Apollo 11, the vast arc of a crazy life has moved me around the surface of this hemisphere with a kind of intellectual crick in my neck, always looking up. My desktop is the famous Earthrise photograph. I have a moon phase gadget on my desktop. And today I am all things lunar, having a ball looking at Apollo landing sites on Google Moon (just pull down the planet looking thing at the top of your Google Earth, and select moon).

The moon will be just a sliver tonight, and it will probably be cloudy--a kind of permanent thing this crazy summer of more global wierding--so, Google Moon will have to do. But it will be back in it's full glory soon, and I'll be out there watching it. Again.

And as far away as it seems, as cold and dusty and preserved, the chill of 40 years is somehow greater. The arc of humanity over that 40 years has shown so little of the promise of that second on that day in 1969. It's hard not to be disappointed.

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