Lu­nar clips

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE -

Hun­dreds of rare pho­tos shot by US as­tro­nauts up for auc­tion

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 United States 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 US auc­tion to fo­cus solely on vin­tage pho­to­graphs pro­duced by NASA as­tro­nauts dur­ing the hey­day of lu­nar ex­plo­ration, from 1961 to 1972. The auc­tion goes live on Thurs­day and runs through Nov 2.

The pho­to­graphs are valu­able not only for their sci­en­tific and his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, but also for their artistry, says 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 are 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, ac­cord­ing to the auc­tion house.

The pho­tos were ac­quired by an un­named pri­vate col­lec­tor.

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

Among them 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 gold­plated sun vi­sor re­flect­ing Arm­strong and their lu­nar mo­d­ule.

As the US govern­ment prom­ises to re­turn as­tro­nauts to the moon, the col­lec­tion of­fers a timely me­mento: A por­trait of Eu­gene Cer­nan tak­ing hu­mankind’s last stroll on the lu­nar sur­face in 1972.

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