Looking Up: The man in the moon
Neil Armstrong 1930-2012
Of course the passing of Neil Armstrong - on Aug. 25, 2012 - was inevitable. He may have seemed "larger than life," but he was a man. We all “go from dust to dust” in our earthly sense; some will aspire to a greater eternity beyond. Others claim this is all there is. Regardless, the life spent here can be marked with achievements, pitfalls and a journey of opportunity and service.
Armstrong will forever be recalled as the “first man on the moon.” Since mankind first marveled at the lovely moon in the night sky, the face of the “man in the moon” has shone down.
Like making up pictures in puffy fair weather clouds, we find great pleasure using our imagination with what see in the cosmos. It may be a constellation figure or a fanciful face on the moon. Thousands of years would pass before a long-held dream to one day touch the lunar orb and be face-to-face with that lunar orb, would be fulfilled.
Incredibly, for our younger generation, this is seemingly ancient history. On July 20, 1969, three earthlings- who yes, made America proud by being citizens of the United States- completed their epic voyage to another world. With Mike Collins “holding the fort” in orbit, Commander Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. landed their spacecraft on the Sea of Tranquility.
Five more successful landings would follow; in all, an even dozen astronauts walked the surface of the moon, before the Apollo program would come to and end following the 1972 landing of Apollo 17.
The war in Vietnam and economic priorities took their toll on this great cosmic adventure. Those who support it would hardly imagine back then that in 2012, not yet another human being would follow to the Moon.
The hope is yet there. Despite the emphasis given in the national media that the American manned space program was put on indefinite hold when the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA is very much alive and doing wonders that should capture anyone’s imagination. Robotic space probes are advancing knowledge in breathtaking ways, most recently with the Curiosity lander on Mars. Other spacecraft are studying asteroids, Saturn, Mercury and the Sun. In 2015 NASA’s New Horizons craft will pass by Pluto.
Every day and night, the International Space Station passes over you, at times when you can actually go out and see it. You can wonder at the brilliant white dot as it quickly heads past, plunging into the Earth’s shadow. At present there are six astronauts aboard.
There are certainly many competing pressures on national budgets. Whether or not we should consider funding further manned missions to other worlds makes good commentary. What is you opinion? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please mention where you read this column.
Your comments may be included in a future column.
Above all, Neil Armstrong was a patriot and a leader. He was a humble man who shunned the spotlight after his fantastic journey. Our lives should not be measured by a singular achievement, but by one’s overall time spent on this planet - or other celestial body!
In a larger sense, Armstrong and others who went to the moon as well as the thousands who were behind the scenes, made this achievement for all people, who accept the courage to climb any mountain. May we all learn to follow in their boot prints.
Last-quarter moon is on Sept. 8.
Keep looking up!
P.S. For an excellent panorama of each Apollo landing site, visit http://panoramas.dk/moon/apollo