Oh, the moon in the sky like a big pizza pie
and it's not green cheese
07/21/2009 11:30 AM
Itís nice living in the South Loop, a place where you can get up in the morning--like yesterday--and go online and be reminded that it is the 40th anniversary of the first moon walk, and get reacquainted with your memories of watching it all live on the TV back then, and suddenly have a million unanswered questions you never thought about until now--and by nightfall have them all answered in person by experts at the Adler Planetarium, to where you have taken a beautiful, lakefront after-dinner stroll--just like I did last night.
I read scores of articles yesterday morning and was surprised at all the stuff I didnít know about Neil and Buzz and Michael on that fateful day when I was 18 and entertaining a few of my college friends at home and my folks made us--and my brother--stop what we were doing and settle down in our den to watch our RCA color console.
The pictures were kind of hazy back then; today, of course they are beauteously colorful and digital. And Armstrongís voice was a little scratchy. It still is in the reruns. And the most overwhelming emotion I remember feeling was utter disgust that Richard Nixon, the idiot, was going to have his name emblazoned on the moon forever.
But I have no memories of wondering about what poor Collins was doing circling the moon, half the time out of communication as he traversed the far side, or trying to figure out how many times he had to circle waiting for his cohorts to finish.
I have no memories of going to the window to look at the moon that night, or whether it was even in the sky--or if it was, whether I knew precisely the location they were in, or what kind of a moon it was.
These were the questions that were so skillfully answered last night when I dropped in on my neighborhood institution--one of the foremost stargazing museums in the universe. I got introduced to an expert--Michelle--an Adler employee who was carrying a moon rock around the museum for all of us visitors to touch.
Michelle obligingly printed out a picture of the moon in the sky from that night in 1969 for me, exactly the way it would have looked if I had looked out the window as the boys were hopping around collecting rocks and such 40 years before. And she pointed out exactly where they would have been in the crescent of light I would have seen.
She told me Collins went around for 22 hours and that each resolution took ďabout an hour.Ē And why it took six hours--from mid-afternoon till mid-evening for Armstrong and Aldrin to get out and start working under the sunlight on the moon. (They had orders to nap first--which they were simply too excited to do.)
Then Michelle suggested my daughter and I try out the moon walking contraption the Adler has rigged up (you have to lay down oddly) to give you the sensation of a lesser gravity environment. (We did it. But I tell you, Jane Fonda exercise tapes are easier to do!)
And then we walked home. At exactly 40 years to the minute that man first walked on the Moon. A little older, a little wiser, a little closer to the men on the moon.