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Posts tagged ‘Apollo’

New Metal Earth Models

Fascintations comntiues to produce more and more models for their popular Metal Earth line. These are models that come on laser-cut metal sheets that you punch out and assemble to make extremely realistic and detailed models of various cars, buildings, vehicles, etc. We don’t carry the entire line but we have added 4 new models to our offerings. Let’s have a look.

First up is the Star Wars TIE Fighter



Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the Moon, R.I.P.

We’re a couple of days late with this, since we don’t update on weekends, but as many of you have probably heard, Neil Armstrong passed away on August 25th from complications from a previous bypass operation.  Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the Moon.

Neil Armstrong, along Buzz Aldrin, were in the lander portion of the Apollo 11 mission, which was the first manned vehicle to land on the Moon.  (Michael Collins remained in Lunar orbit). Neil Armstrong had to land the “Eagle” manually after the computer chose a surface strewn with boulders while Buzz Aldrin called out navigation data. Neil safely landed the craft and uttered the famous line “Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed”. The schedule for Apollo then had them taking a nap (no, really). Armstrong and Aldrin refused to do this and instead embarked on their extravehicular activities. Armstrong, due to his position in the cockpit was the first to leave the Lander. Once Armstrong reached the bottom of the lander he utter the line “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”, which often sounds like “one small step for man…” in recordings. Armstrong & Aldrin would spend less than a day on the Lunar surface before returning.

Even before the space program, Armstrong had an incredible career. He earned an aeronautical engineer’s degree from MIT. After graduation he went into the US Navy and flew in Korea. Afterwards he worked as a test pilot before applying to become an astronaut.

Armstrong was a very private person and did not do much to ‘cash in’ on his fame.  He was very quiet and unassuming compared to his more outgoing lunar partner, Buzz Aldrin. Despite some claims, however, he was not a recluse and did grant interviews on a regular basis. He did refuse to sign autographs after finding out that people were selling them for money. After Apollo 11 he elected to become an engineering teacher. He also served on the committees to examine to Apollo 13 incident and the Columbia disaster.

A national hero…no a planetary hero has passed away. This has been a tragic year for astronauts.


Astronomy Hints #2: Your telescope will not see the Apollo remains on the Moon.

Those who know even  little bit about telescopes will be flabbergasted that this question even gets asked, but it does. Every now and then someone asks us in the store or via email  “Will this telescope will let me see the Lunar Lander/Flag on the Moon?”

After first resisting the urge to Facepalm we then go on to explain why this is not going to happen with pretty much any telescope used on Earth, or heck even from telescopes in orbit.

First of all go to Google Images and look for telescope images of the Lunar Lander remains. You won’t find any. The shots that come up from such a search are from the Lunar Reconnaissance  Orbiter that photographed the Lunar      Surface FROM LUNAR ORBIT in 2009. Keep in mind that the LRO was probably in a lower orbit  than the spy satellites we use around Earth and it still has the Lander remains showing up as a few pixels casting a longer shadow. This was all that the probe in Lunar orbit could do. The Hubble couldn’t even do that, and your terrestrial-based telescope can’t either.

Why not? Well it all comes down to a little things called resolution. What that means is how much your telescope can differentiate one object from another, or how small an object you can see. Resolution is measured in parts of a degree called arc seconds. How much this resolution translates to size depends on how far the object being viewed is from you. Close to the telescope and you can count individuals’ buttons on someone’s shirt,  get to deep space and that same resolution now makes up billions of miles.

For the Moon?  Well, a large home telescope (12″ or larger), under perfect circumstances has  maxed out viewing limit of .5 arc seconds. Sounds good (and it is) but once you get just to the Moon that .5 arc seconds is measured in miles. Keep in mind that the Lunar lander was only a few yards across!

Simple logic and common sense should tell most folks this if they think about it, but we are often told tales of spy satellites that can read our license plates from orbit, or have it in our heads that optics work the way we want rather than being governed by certain optical laws. It doesn’t help that cheap department store telescopes often come in boxes that show pictures of the Moon taken from the Apollo landers!

BTW, do not expect to see the flag on the Moon. Ever. The flags were made of plastic and have been bombarded with direct UV for over 40 years. The result has most likely destroyed the flags. The footprints the astronauts left on the moon will last for ages – the plastic flags they hung up? Not so much! UPDATE – 7/31/2012. Seems that is wrong, the flags are still there!