Buzz Aldrin, second man on moon, recalls 'magnificent desolation' - Montreal Gazette - Canadanewsmedia
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Buzz Aldrin, second man on moon, recalls 'magnificent desolation' – Montreal Gazette

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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an extravehicular activity (EVA) on the moon, July 20, 1969. (Neil Armstrong/NASA/Handout via REUTERS)


LOS ANGELES — Fifty years after their history-making voyage to the moon, Buzz Aldrin recalls the first moments of the Apollo 11 launch being so smooth that he and his two crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins, were unsure precisely when they left the ground.

He remembers the white-knuckle descent to the moon’s dusty surface in the four-legged lunar module Eagle, as Armstrong took manual control of the landing craft to pilot it to a safe touchdown, just seconds from running out of fuel.

And as the second human ever to step on the moon — Armstrong was first down the ladder — Aldrin recounts feeling sure-footed in the one-sixth gravity of the lunar surface while gazing at the “magnificent desolation” around him.

Aldrin says he and his crewmates were so absorbed in doing their jobs that they were oddly disconnected from how momentous the occasion was as it unfolded for hundreds of millions of people on Earth, watching it all on live television.

“I sometimes think the three of us missed ‘the big event’,” Aldrin said during a 50th anniversary gala at the Ronald Reagan Library outside Los Angeles. “While we were out there on the moon, the world was growing closer together, right here.”

Aldrin, now 89 and one of just four living people ever to have walked on the moon, recounted highlights of his Apollo 11 experiences in an interview with an organizer of Saturday’s event, which was closed to the media. A transcript was furnished to Reuters.

It was 50 years ago to the day on Tuesday that Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins were launched into space atop a Saturn 5 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

“We did not know the instant of leaving the ground. We only knew it from the instruments and voice communications which confirmed liftoff,” he recalled. “We sort of looked at each other and thought, ‘We must be on our way.’”

After reaching lunar orbit, leaving Collins behind as pilot of the command module Columbia, Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the moon’s surface in the Eagle. Armstrong ended up piloting the craft to a safe landing after overriding a computer guidance system that was heading it to a field of boulders.

During those tense moments, Aldrin’s voice was heard in the TV broadcast calling out navigation data as Eagle moved downward and forward over the surface to touchdown.

“We knew we were continuing to burn fuel. We knew what we had, then we heard ’30 seconds left.’ If we ran out of fuel, we knew it would be a hard landing. We saw the shadow cast in front of us. That was new, not something we saw in the simulator,” Aldrin recounted.

“I saw dust creating a haze, not particles, but a haze that went out, dust the engine was picking up,” he said.

In the final seconds of descent, Aldrin confirmed an indicator light showing that at least one of the probes dangling from Eagle’s footpads had touched the surface – calling out “Contact light.”

Seconds later came Armstrong’s famed radio announcement to mission control in Houston – “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

The relief of the two astronauts was mutual. “Neil remembers we shook hands, and I recall putting my hand on his shoulder and we smiled,” Aldrin said.

Hours later, Armstrong’s words upon becoming the first human to set foot on the moon – “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – were immortalized. As Aldrin recalls, “Neil thought of that. It wasn’t on the checklist.”

Aldrin’s turn came next.

“I then got in position to come down … came down the ladder, and jumped off, being careful not to lock the door behind me,” he said, recounting “it was easy to balance” as he moved about the lunar surface to set up NASA experiments.

To this day, Aldrin added, he stands by his own best known, though somewhat less famous catch phrase from the moon – his impromptu description of the moonscape as a scene of “magnificent desolation.”

“I guess I said that because it was magnificent,” he said. “We had gotten there, and it looked pretty desolate. But it was magnificent desolation. I think Neil remarked the beauty, too.”

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SDO caught the Mercury transit from space – EarthSky

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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) had a ringside seat on Monday, November 11, 2019, as Mercury crossed the face of the sun in the last transit of Mercury until the year 2032. The video above shows SDO’s views of the sun – during the hours of the transit – in a variety of wavelengths of light in the extreme ultraviolet.

Plus … hey, who knew NASA could be funny?

Bottom line: Video of November 11, 2019, transit of Mercury, as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

EarthSky 2020 lunar calendars are available! They make great gifts. Order now. Going fast!

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Mercury Transit Live Stream – Den of Geek US

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Your Monday is about to get a lot better, especially if you’re on the East Coast. At 7:35 am ET, you’ll get the clearest view of a rare celestial event, as Mercury transits the Sun from our vantage point for the first time since 2016. This is an event we’re only able to witness from Earth about 13 times per century. In fact, the next time you’ll able to watch Mercury cross in front of the Sun is in 2032, which means you probably won’t want to miss it this time around. 

It’ll take Mercury five and a half hours to complete its transit, so you’ll have until 1:04 pm ET to catch the event. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should stare directly at the Sun — protective eyewear is recommended. Check out NASA’s eye safety tips for viewing transits and eclipses. 

For those of you who won’t get a chance to see the event in person, you can watch Mercury’s transit across the Sun in the live stream below:

Video of Mercury Transit 2019 LIVE Stream

Mercury actually completes a full orbit around the Sun every 88 days, but it’s not often that it does so from an Earth-friendly vantage point due to its “eccentric, egg-shaped orbit,” according to NASA. Due to this unusual orbit, the fastest planet in our Solar System, traveling through space at 29 miles per second, can get as close as 29 million miles and as far as 43 million miles from the Sun. For comparison, Earth is about 93 million miles from the star.

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As you’d expect, the first planet in our Solar System can get MUCH hotter than Earth, reaching temperatures higher than 800 degrees Fahrenheit or as cold as minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit since Mercury has no atmosphere with which to retain heat. Basically, don’t expect to find any signs of life on this celestial hellscape.

I leave you with my favorite scene from my favorite science fiction movie, Danny Boyle‘s Sunshine. Chris Evans (before he was Captain America), Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Michelle Yeoh, Cliff Curtis, Hiroyuki Sanada, and the rest of the movie’s killer ensemble cast gather in their spaceship’s observation deck to watch Mercury transit the Sun on their way to reignite the star and save Earth from a chilly death:

Video of &quot;Sunshine&quot; Movie Clip – Approaching Mercury

John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9.

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Planet dances with sun | Local News – The Chronicle Journal

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Allan Haney braved cold temperatures at Hillcrest Park on Monday for a front row view of the planet Mercury passing the sun in a rare celestial transit.

He used a pair of binoculars to reflect the sun on a white paper plate to see the tiny black dot that is Mercury as it passed directly between Earth and the sun during the five-and-a-half-hour celestial show that was visible in Canada, the eastern U.S., Central and South America.

The rest of the world, with the exception of Asia and Australia, got just a sampling.

In our solar system, Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet. The next transit will take place in 2032, but North America won’t get another glimpse until 2049.

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