How We Saw the Moon: Top Ten Apollo Images

Posted on Wed, March 9, 2016

On February 26, 2016, we opened our latest exhibition of imagery, A New Moon Rises, in our Art Gallery. These stunning images of our largest satellite show, with amazing clarity, our nearest planetary neighbor. But not nearly as clearly as the Apollo astronauts saw it. Here is my top ten list of the most amazing images brought to us by the only 12 people to see the Moon while standing on it. I was not alive for the Moon landings, but these are the images that tell me the story of six missions that changed my world.

Surveyor III Precision Landing

<p>Apollo 12 astronauts Conrad and Bean landed close enough to Surveyor III to take this photo.</p>


1. Precision

This image speaks volumes for the fulfillment of a goal. That Apollo 12 astronauts Conrad and Bean landed close enough to Surveyor III to take this photo is truly stunning.

Apollo 17: Flag on the Moon

<p>Geologist-Astronaut Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 Lunar Module pilot, is photographed next to the American Flag during extravehicular activity (EVA) of NASA's final lunar landing mission in the Apollo series.</p>


2. Distance

Astronauts on the Moon were really far from home, expressed with this single image of Jack Schmitt from Apollo 17.

Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

<p>Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" during the Apollo 11 exravehicular activity (EVA). Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the Lunar Module (LM) "Eagle" to explore the Sea of Tranquility region of the Moon, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Columbia" in lunar orbit.</p>
<p><a href="">NASA GRIN #GPN-2001-000013</a></p>


3. Iconic

Landing on the Moon was, to many, the greatest human achievement yet, and this image of Buzz Aldrin from Apollo 11 cemented that idea in public memory.

Apollo 17 LRV

Repaired Lunar Roving Vehicle fender (Apollo 17).


4. Engineering

When faced with a broken fender on their rover, Cernan and Schmitt worked with help from 386,243 kilometers (240,000 miles) away to fashion a solution that would keep their travels less messy.

Charlie Duke (Apollo 16)

Charlie Duke and UV camera on the lunar surface.


5. Science

Apollo 16 carried the first telescope that operated on another planetary body. The final three Apollo missions in particular were about gathering loads of scientific information for decades worth of research.

Apollo 17 Lunar Roving

<p>In this image from the Apollo 17 mission, the Lunar Rover can be seen in the distance. Look closely and you’ll see the effect of the steep grade on the front right tire of the rover.</p>


6. Challenge

That’s a really big boulder and a really small rover next to it. Look closely and you’ll see the effect of the steep grade on the front right tire of the rover during the Apollo 17 mission. Astronauts explored a very challenging environment. Jim Irwin Apollo 15 Salute


7. Contrast

Not only is there a striking contrast in colors in this photograph of Jim Irwin from Apollo 15, but the contrast between human, technology, and the lunar landscape is intense. Lunar Module Lander Leg


8. Force

Landing a lunar module on the Moon wasn’t easy, and this shows the force of impact of just one of the four lander legs on Apollo 14.

Colors on the Moon

9. Color

Colors on the Moon are far more than the gray/silver we see from Earth. Samples and images from Apollo 17 show the diversity of colors on the Moon, including orange, brown, tan, gray-purple, and blue-gray. Apollo 11 Plaque

10. Legacy

The accomplishments of the Apollo 11 crew and the five crews that landed after them are evidenced by the scientific, engineering, and photographic yield, which are still studied today. What they left behind on the Moon remains a landmark of a unique period in human history.




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