Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Telescopic Tracking of the Apollo Lunar Missions

Watching satellites in Earth orbit has proven to be a popular and easy pastime. It may not be appreciated these days that it was possible to observe the Apollo spacecraft during transits between Earth and Moon. Many of these reports exist only in printed form, from a time before most electronic indexing has reached. This page begins to document telescopic observations of the Apollo lunar missions. It remains a work in progress, and I welcome further contributions and references. Small thumbnail images link to larger versions.

The first sightings of each mission were of course the launches, watched by hundreds of thousands of people lining the Florida beaches. I start the fun with these two images, which I took at age 13 before and during the launch of Apollo 15.


Acknowledgements. The following people have provided pictures, pointers, or permissions for this material, and I am happy to publicly thank them: Geoff Chester, Mike Drake, Brian Fenerty, Terry Galloway, Maurice Gavin. Elaine Halbedel, M.J. Hendrie, Sally MacGillivray, Paul Maley, Joe Miller, Jeff Pier, Oscar Rodriguez, Elizabeth Roemer, Jonathan Silverlight, Dan Weedman, Ron Welch, and Jim Young.

The Web contains some marvelous resources with enormous detail about the Apollo program, many of them labors of love by a few individuals. Some especially useful ones are:

  • Contact Light - the Apollo archive
  • The Apollo Lunar Surface Journals
  • The Apollo Flight Journals
  • Apollo by the Numbers
  • The Bad Astronomer's analysis of "Apollo Hoax" arguments
  • JSC Digital Image Collection searchable on NASA image number or keywords

    In more tangible media, there is a vast array of material in Apogee Books' collection of NASA Mission Reports and Spacecraft Films' newly compiled DVD sets. If I can find these locally in Alabama, and outside of Huntsville, they're not that hard to locate...

    Bill Keel | UA Astronomy | Dept. of Physics and Astronomy | University of Alabama

    (ostentatious throat-clearing) "The views, opinions, and conclusions expressed in this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of The University of Alabama or its officers and trustees. The content of this page has not been reviewed or approved by The University of Alabama, and the author is solely responsible for its content. "
    Last changes: May 2004 

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