Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Me, Buzz, and the Moon

Waxing Gibbous Moon photographed July 31, 2009
Nikon D300, Nikkor 500mm f4, Digital Capture, ISO 200; 
Photographed from Horse Cove, Alabama

   July 20th, 1969, a day I will never forget as long as I live. It was one of the most exciting days of my life and perhaps yours as well. It was the day that man landed on the moon. Wow, that was 41 years ago!
     Long before I was a hard-core birder and bird photographer, I was a space junky. During my junior high and high school years I lived and breathed astronomy and space travel. How could I not? I lived just 20 miles from Huntsville, Alabama at the time. Wernher Von Braun was director of the Marshall Space Flight Center. He and his team designed the Saturn V rocket that carried man to the moon. For me it was an exciting time to live! I spent nights in the backyard with my telescope observing the moon and the planets. I mapped the rotation of the Galilean moons of Jupiter in their orbits, observered comets and cut my teeth on astrophotography. Now that I think of it; It was a miracle that I ever found someone to marry me!

Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Photo by Neil Armstrong.....
                .... I wasn't able to get there to photograph the event.

     Later in life I got to meet some of those heroes of the early space program. Buzz Aldrin was one of them. I first met Buzz in 1992 when he was visiting bookstores to promote his book, “Encounter with Tiber.” I was asked to photograph the event, and of-course, I jumped at the opportunity. The first hour-and-a-half was very busy with a constant flow of autograph seekers (me being one), then there was no one there but Buzz and me. The two of us sat and talked for over an hour. I asked questions and he happily told stories to answer them. It was fascinating to have Buzz Aldrin to myself, telling stories of flying, his favorite aircraft and his time at NASA. This was another moment in time that I will never forget.

Left to Right, Kathy Sullivan, Bobby Harrison, Sylvia Earle,
 Buzz Aldrin: Photo by Whitney Harrison Robison

In 2006 I had another opportunity to meet Buzz. In 2005, Tim Gallagher (editor of Living Bird Magazine) and I had been elected to the Explorers Club in New York City. In 2006 we were among the honorees at the clubs annual dinner to receive the Explorers Club Conservationist of the Year Award. When I arrived at the pre-dinner events there was Buzz and a number of other Great Americans such as astronaut Kathy Sullivan, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, entomologist E. O. Wilson (a fellow Alabamian), and others. I must say, it was pretty cool ...........another day I will never forget!

Notes on moon Photography: Photographing the moon is easy. For a full moon set the shutter speed at the inverse of the ISO setting at f8. Example, if your camera ISO is set at 200. Set the shutter speed at 1/200 of a second at f8 or any equivalent. The faster the shutter speed the better. So convert the 1/200 @ f8, to 1/800 @ f4. If the moon is at a first quarter open the aperture 1 stop. With your digital camera you can check the exposure and make adjustments if needed.

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