Sharp Blue: Full Moon


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Thirty years ago, men from Earth voyaged across the gulf of space and began to explore a strange alien world. For those of us who are too young to remember, the Apollo programme seems strangely detached from history. It’s sometimes hard to see those missions as part of the past and not a glimpse into some amazing future as yet unborn. We’re so used to astronauts being construction workers in low orbit that it’s startling and sad to recall that they were once explorers, seeing sights that no human had ever before witnessed. During six brief missions, the magnificent desolation of the lunar surface was disturbed by boots and wheels, scuffing up dust that had lain unperturbed for aeons. Then silence fell once more across the airless deserts.

In his book, Full Moon, the artist and photographer Michael Light brings to life the audacious spirit of those times. Through carefully selected photographs, he tells the story of a generic Apollo mission from launch through the lunar landing to the return to Earth. It’s not possible to skim through the book - you have to linger over every page. A Saturn booster in flight, the Earth, the Moon, the Apollo craft, the unexpected diversity of the lunar landscapes, the astronauts themselves: I don’t have words to describe the awe evoked by these photographs. Even the hardware has an incredible beauty:

Almost all the familiar Apollo photographs are fourth or fifth generation copies, but for Full Moon Light was allowed access to the original negatives in NASA’s photographic archive for the first time in decades. It’s this that gives the book its great power: the digital scans he has produced have an astonishing clarity. These pictures, more than any others that I’ve ever seen, impart some understanding of what it must have been like to have been on one of those missions. If only the Moon hadn’t slipped from our grasp…

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