December 30, 2012
images from previous LPODs
2012 saw the passing of three figures who inspired countless millions of people to look up, especially at the Moon. Historically, Neil Armstrong is destined to be one of the most famous humans in history, the first of our species to step onto another world. No other achievement of a scientist, general, politician or poet can match the audacity of that, but of course, Neil often said he didn't do it alone - he had bravery, courage, and skill, plus the backing of tens of thousands of engineers and scientists who designed, built and tested the Apollo spacecraft and rockets. In July another space pioneer, Sally Ride, died. As the first American woman in space she became a powerful role model for girls everywhere. And like Armstrong, she did not use her fame for personal enrichment but spent her post-astronaut life working to inspire girls to love science as she did. One of Sally's last projects gave her a connection with the Moon, in that her MoonKam on the GRAIL spacecraft allowed classrooms of kids to image parts of the lunar surface that interested them. The third lunar luminary to die was Patrick Moore, probably the most successful popularizer of the Moon ever. Sir Patrick promoted interest in the Moon and broader cosmos by writing book after book and appearing on The Sky at Night TV program for more than 50 years. 2012 saw the deaths of other lunar scientists and three others with lunar connections: Sir Bernard Lovell used the Jodrell Bank radio telescope to intercept signals from Luna 9, showing the first pictures from the lunar surface before the Russians released them. The Rev. Sun Myung Moon also died in 2012, his connection with the Moon was only his name, but being both the Sun and the Moon it is perhaps no wonder that he considered himself the messiah. Finally, 2012 also saw the passing of Andy Williams, who also brought the Moon to millions.
Yesterday's LPOD: Catching Up with Pythagoras
Tomorrow's LPOD: New Data And Personal Explorations