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Highlands Astronomical Society

50 Years Ago .... by Eric W Walker (21 July 2019)

Added on 21 July 2019

50 years ago my mum & dad let me stay up to watch Man take his first step on the Moon.

I was 11 years old and had been passionately watching & reading about all the American & Russian space missions for the past few years. Anyone that has met me, will know that, still, I just want to learn everything about everything!

UK folks of my time will remember the names of James Burke, Cliff Michelmore, Raymond Baxter, and, of course, Patrick Moore who fed our insatiable appetites for knowledge & information about space, space flight, the space race, and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

My dad was into photography at the time and had his own wee black & white photography darkroom in our Council house in Provost Square in Brechin.

We set up a camera on a tripod in front of our black & white telly and took shot, after shot, after shot. Dad was much more planned and structured than me and ensured he got pics of the key, now historical, moments.

At 3:56:20 am BST on July 21st Neil Armstrong set Man’s first foot on the Moon.

His crackly comm-system broadcast the words “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” which made a huge impact on me and affected (for the good, I hope) the way I constantly try to improve myself and help others through my achievements (that’s what dad told me, in “Brechin speak”, the statement meant, and the way in which he told me was one of those father-son moments you don’t forget).

When the broadcast finished we went straight to the darkroom, developed the film and made contact prints, and enlarged them once the negatives had dried.

I don’t have any of the prints anymore, however, a couple of months ago I was going through some of my dad’s obscure things (he passed away a few years ago) and came across a small old plastic box which you used to store 35mm slides.

To my total amazement, and sheer delight, there were three negatives from that early morning. They were three of the key moments of the Apollo 11 moonwalk - lunar module hatch opening, first step on the Moon, and a later snapshot of the moonwalk itself.

Tears of mixed emotion in my eyes, joy at this discovery, sad at not being able to be with my dad again, pride at what he did for me and enabled me to become ... I took iPhone photos of the scratched negatives and processed them with iPhone software to turn them into positives.

Attached are the images I obtained.

Such a joyous memory I just wanted to, and had to, share it with everyone.

Eric (Jr.)

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