Timebends

The motions of the moon are complicated. It spins on its axis and revolves around the earth in such a way that one side is always facing away--the "dark side of the moon." On the moon's surface a day lasts two earth weeks. For the 21.6 hours of the astronauts' stay, the sun seemed to hang motionless in the sky above the moon's slow turning. They landed at lunar dawn, when the low sun cast long shadows. Any later in the lunar day and all the features would have been washed out in light, like snow blindness in an arctic whiteout.

At 1/6 G not even the gravity was the same. And mixed up with gravity is our physiological sense of time. No wonder Armstrong and Aldrin were delayed inexplicably; men whose lives were predicated on punctuality and precision dawdled and lost track of time despite their expensive chronographs and reminders from Houston to move things along.

Each astronaut had been allowed a small sack of personal belongings. Armstrong had brought pins and ribbons and trinkets, souvenirs which would be made valuable for having been to the moon. Aldrin brought wine and host and took communion on the moon as soon as they landed. This was God's back porch.

Their EVA (extra-vehicular activity) was two hours late. Jerry waited.

previous | index | random | next