Rare pho­tos by early NASA as­tro­nauts auc­tioned off

Times Colonist - - World - PHILIP MARCELO

BOS­TON — John Glenn was the first per­son to snap a pho­to­graph of Earth from outer space. Neil Arm­strong took the first pic­ture from the moon’s sur­face.

The orig­i­nal prints of those are among 445 rare pho­tos taken by Amer­i­can as­tro­nauts that are be­ing sold by Skin­ner Auc­tion­eers and Ap­prais­ers start­ing this week.

The Mas­sachusetts auc­tion house says “The Beauty of Space” is the first-ever U.S. auc­tion to fo­cus solely on vin­tage pho­to­graphs pro­duced by NASA as­tro­nauts dur­ing the hey­day of lu­nar ex­plo­ration, from 1961 to 1972.

The auc­tion be­gan Thurs­day and runs through Nov. 2.

The pho­to­graphs are valu­able not only for their sci­en­tific and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, but also for their artistry, said Michelle La­mu­niere, a spe­cial­ist in fine pho­tog­ra­phy at Skin­ner.

“While the as­tro­nauts’ pri­mary goal was to record their ac­tiv­i­ties, they were in­spired by what they wit­nessed, cre­at­ing im­ages that tran­scend doc­u­men­ta­tion,” she said.

The im­ages up for auc­tion are not re­prints but orig­i­nal, gelatin sil­ver or chro­mogenic prints pro­duced by NASA fol­low­ing the Mer­cury, Gemini and Apollo mis­sions.

Many bear orig­i­nal NASA marks, cap­tions and iden­ti­fy­ing num­bers. In­di­vid­u­ally, the im­ages are worth any­where from $300 to $9,000 US, ac­cord­ing to the auc­tion house.

The pho­tos were ac­quired by an un­named pri­vate col­lec­tor from for­mer NASA sci­en­tists and em­ploy­ees.

They in­clude as­tro­naut por­traits, can­did shots dur­ing train­ing ex­er­cises and dra­matic im­ages of space­walks and views of the Earth and moon from space.

Among the stand­out pho­tos is a 1962 im­age by John Glenn of the sun il­lu­mi­nat­ing the Earth. It’s the first photo of the planet taken by a hu­man from space.

There’s also Buzz Aldrin’s 1969 pic­ture of the first foot­print on lu­nar soil (his own) as well as his col­league Neil Arm­strong’s fa­mous “vi­sor” photo from that same Apollo 11 mis­sion.

Arm­strong’s photo cap­tures Aldrin on the moon’s sur­face, his gold-plated sun vi­sor re­flect­ing Arm­strong and their lu­nar mo­d­ule.

And as U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion prom­ises to re­turn as­tro­nauts to the moon, the col­lec­tion of­fers a timely me­mento: a por­trait of as­tro­naut Eu­gene Cer­nan tak­ing hu­mankind’s last stroll on the lu­nar sur­face in 1972.

NEIL ARM­STRONG, NASA, AP

Neil Arm­strong’s 1969 photo of fel­low as­tro­naut Buzz Aldrin walk­ing on the sur­face of the moon.

BUZZ ALDRIN, NASA, AP

Buzz Aldrin’s 1969 photo of his own boot­print on lu­nar soil.

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