Black Skies in Daylight

On the moon the horizon is not as wide or far away, but with nothing but rocks and shadows it seemed large and lonely, an emptiness more than a place.

The moon's gravity, 1/6th of earth's, is not strong enough to wrap gasses around it. Because there is no atmosphere on the moon, objects do not recede into haze. For the first time in their lives the astronauts cursed their 20/20 jet pilot eyes which allowed nothing to fade into the forgiving blur of distance. The stars did not twinkle or seem far away. A peculiar feeling of claustrophobia when the infinite is closing in, the heavens within arm's reach.

Air is why earth's sky is blue. On the moon the sky is black even in daytime. The untempered sun is brighter than when seen from earth, its light shines through the void where a sky should be with nothing to illuminate, heating the surface to 250 F, while inches away in the shade it is -250 because there is no atmosphere to distribute the heat. The only reminders of the sky they left behind were the emissions of their space suits, earthsky blue haloes of what they exhaled.

What memories could they have of that place? Their immediate environments--whether in the capsule or in their EMU spacesuits--were regulated and regular, pressurized to approximate the feel of the earth's atmosphere. They were living in machines. The moon was hostile to the senses. What they could take from the moon came through their eyes, and even this had to be carefully filtered against blinding radiation and glare. They were both there and not there, as if they'd travelled so far in a dream.

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