Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Footsteps on the Moon

Full Moon.  Photo by Bobby Harrison
Nikon D7000, 500mm f/4

     July 20th, 1969 is 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. 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.  Werner Von Braun was director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, and Von Braun 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, planets and nebulas.  I mapped the rotation of the Galilean moons of Jupite, observer comets and cut my teeth on astrophotography. 

 Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

 Crew of Apollo 11, (Left to right) Niel Armstrong, Mission commander and first man 
on the moon.Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot, and Buzz Aldrin, Lunar 
Module Pilot and second man to walk on the moon.

      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 a local bookstore 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 as he told me stories of flying, his time at NASA and his favorite aircraft the F86 Saber.  He flew the Saber during the Korea War, and you should have heard him talk about that jet.  His eyes lit up as he talked about its design, maneuverability, and how sharp it looked.  He spent more time talking about the Saber, than he did about his time in space.  This was another moment in time that I will never forget. 
 Buzz Aldrin with an F-86 Saber

     In 2006 I had another opportunity to meet Buzz.  Tim Gallager (editor of Living Bird Magazine) and I had been elected to the Explorers Club in New York City in 2005.  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 number of other Great Americans such as astronaut Kathy Sullivan, oceanographer Silvia Earl, entomologist E.O. Wilson (a fellow Alabamian), and others.  We were all seated together on the dais, and I must say it was a pretty cool, another day I will never forget!

 March 18, 2006 Explorers Club Annual Dinner
Left to Right, Kathy Sullivan, Bobby Harrison, Sylvia Earle,
 Buzz Aldrin:  Photo by Whitney Harrison Robison

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