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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

From the Earth to the Moon … in One Minute

By Phil Plait

I recently wrote about the huge archive of 8,400 photographs from the Apollo Moon missions released on Flickr. Put together by Kipp Teague, it’s a great way to spend some time looking over one of the greatest moments in space exploration history.

If you don’t have a lot of time, then the Planetary Society put together a <tl;dr> version of it: all the Apollo 11 photos combined into one short video:

When I first saw this mentioned by my pal Ariel Waldman, I figured it would just be a rapid-fire compilation of pictures almost too fast to comprehend. But Merc Boyan, media producer for the society, made this eminently watchable, timing the music and photos—including some strategic pauses—to create something that, somehow, is more than the linear combination of its parts.

In fact, the photo archive has inspired all sorts of artistic endeavors by people to create interesting—and wildly different—takes on bringing these still images to life.

Vimeo user harrisonicus created a trippy video made from haphazardly collected images from the archive. Well, mostly haphazard; it shows a trip from the Earth to the Moon in chronological order, but using photos from different missions along the way. So you might see a shot of the Earth from Apollo 12 right after one from Apollo 16 (showing the Earth roughly the same size, as if you're the same distance from it, but in wildly different phases). He set it to some video game music, and the result is rather endearing.

Tom Kucy created a more serious and dramatic take by tweaking the photos a bit, animating some, tilt-shifting others, highlighting them as high (literally) art. His video is immersive and enthralling.

I love the dedication and enthusiasm people have for this. Hundreds of millions of people watched the Apollo missions as they happened, and I was one of them, though only a small boy. The effect on me was profound, and clearly, these missions still have a long reach. Given that about 400,000 people worked for a decade to put a dozen men on the Moon and return them safely back to Earth, perhaps this archive and these videos are a metaphor for the project as a whole … and a reminder what we can do when we reach for the stars.

Tip o' the spacesuit visors to Wired for the second two videos.

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