How many Apollo launches were there?

This is a posting that is unashamedly for Apollo nerds. If you are over sixty years old, you probably remember Apollo and lived the Moon landings, at least the first one, as I did. People of my generation are bathing in a stream of glittering memories as we pass the fiftieth anniversary of one epic [...]

Apollo 13: Fifty Years On – the known disaster and the unknown near-disaster

As the world faces arguably its greatest crisis since the Spanish ‘Flu of 1918-1920 and NASA gears up steadily for the first of its three, planned Artemis flights, which will take man (and almost certainly at least one woman) back to the Moon, there is a certain irony in the fact that Artemis 2, the [...]

Apollo 12: the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Second Lunar Landing – a story of serial bad luck, a serious mistake and unexplained saliva

Who remembers Apollo 12? It should have been the flight that gave the American public a television spectacular that knocked spots off the short Apollo 11 moonwalk. The first moon landing was basically a PR exercise: the moonwalk was the shortest possible and science was almost an afterthought. The Apollo 11 landing was to give [...]

The Other First Man

Recently, we have celebrated the 50th Anniversary of “One Small Step”. History records that Neil Armstrong was the First Man and that the first manned landing on the Moon was made by Armstrong and Aldrin. History also records that, had things been only slightly different, the first landing could have been made by Grissom and [...]

Are The Apollo Flags Still Standing?

One of the articles of faith of the Apollo Moon landing is that the items left on the lunar surface will last, if not for all time, at least for millions of years. We can see the tracks left by the astronauts of each of the Moon landings. The disturbed earth – more accurately, disturbed [...]

The Bizarre Moon Conspiracy Theories

Earlier this week, my attention was drawn by a colleague to the poll in Twitter below, started last summer by a prominent Spanish footballer (ex-Captain of the national team, so you suppose that he must be fairly level-headed). The player in question recounted how he was arguing over dinner the previous night about whether or [...]

First Man and the Accidental Moon

Left: A Saturn 1 test with a dummy payload on October 27th 1960. Right: the Apollo 4 launch on November 9th 1967. Images: NASA. In previous Blog entries I have explored some of the lesser-known aspects of the Apollo Moon landings. Some of these are explored by the excellent film “First Man”. Still more are [...]

Is it Really Fifty Years?

Remembering History We are starting what is going to be an emotional period of time. We have just passed the fiftieth anniversary of the first of the manned Apollo flights – Apollo 7, although the mission badge showed it as Apollo VII – which launched on October 11th 1968 and landed, after a fraction under [...]

What Makes Tonight’s Lunar Eclipse Remarkable? The total lunar eclipse of July 27th/28th 2018

By now, just about everybody must have heard of tonight’s total lunar eclipse. It is a particularly unusual one for many different reasons, so it is not one to miss. A whole number of phenomena coincide to make it unusual: The eclipse is the longest of this century – it is predicted to last for [...]

The Spectacle of a Blood Moon and Mars: the total lunar eclipse of July 27th/28th 2018.

If you live in Western Europe, moonrise on Friday July 27th will be particularly unusual. For the inhabitants of Madrid, Paris and Stockholm, the Moon will rise just about at the same moment that the Moon is totally eclipsed. To the west of this line – for example, London, Dublin or Oslo – totality will [...]