Tonight, as I stepped out of the house facing west, I saw a thin sliver of a moon.
Since the night was clear, I was able to see the entire orb of the moon in a dark charchoal color. This faint illumination of the moon comes from the light reflected from earth. If I were able to stand on the moon, about in the center of of the disk, and I looked straight up, I’d see a half earth, the lower part brilliantly lit by the sun, shining in bright white and blue, and the upper side completely black, and only distinguishable from the black of endless space because there are no stars where the black half of the earth is.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the moon in July of 1969 when I was a boy of 13. In Germany, this occurred very late at night, between 2:00am and 4:00am. I remember that my parents allowed me to stay up and watch TV all night. I don’t remember if the next day was a school day. But watching the landing and subsequent excursion was one of the most memorable events in my childhood and youth.
I wanted to be an astronaut, but I was born in the wrong country, even the wrong continent. There was nobody that provided me guidance about how to pursue a goal, structure an education and pursue a career. Lost dreams.
Yesterday, 60 Minutes showed a segment about America going back to the moon, and on to Mars. NASA is now working on this goal, but no politician has made it a vision for the country. All we hear is bickering about how we can’t afford this, because, after all, there are people starving on earth, heck, there are people starving in America.
America could use leaders with a vision again, not a vision driven by fear, by despair, by hopelessness, but a real vision, one of hope, one of marvel. But that is the subject of another blog entry.
NASA is planning to be back on the moon by perhaps 2020, provided funding isn’t cut. We may be able to embark on a mission to Mars around 2030.
I am too old to go to the moon or to Mars. If I am lucky, I will be around to watch on TV. Assuming that the astronauts that will travel to the moon will then be 30 to 40 years old, as the Apollo astronauts were, the people going to the moon are now graduating from high school, the older ones are already in college. The people that will be eligible to board a spaceship to Mars, to spend 2.5 years on that trip, are now children between 8 and 12 years old. Elementary school.
As for me, I was born 50 years too early. If I was given the chance to go back to elementary school, in America, I would do it in a heartbeat.
That’s what went through my head as I stepped out my door and saw the sliver of a moon over the western horizon.