Pick Six: Lunar Globes of the 1960's
In honor of this week's winter solstice full lunar eclipse, an event which last occurred in the 14th century, this week's post will take a look at moon globes from the 1960's. FYI, I did not stay up Monday night until 1:30 to view the eclipse, which apparently threw off more red light than a normal lunar eclipse. I suspect I was not alone in blowing off this celestial event, and I also suspect it was a bigger deal in the 1300's, when nighttime viewing options were pretty much limited to the moon.
Moon globes certainly preceded the 1960's, but space exploration did for the moon what sailing expeditions did for the Americas (it wasn't called the dark side of the moon for nothing). The first moon globes incorporating images and data collected by cosmonauts and astronauts hit the market in the early 1960's. Fittingly, there was a moon globe race between the U.S. and the Soviet bloc that mirrored the Cold War space race. A small Russian lunar globe based on observations from the Soviet Luna 3 mission of 1959, which provided the first photos of the back side of the moon, was the opening salvo. A slightly larger (13") version was produced by the East German firm Rath Globen. The Rath Globen sphere is pictured here, courtesy of Staetshuys Antiquariat, and there is nothing wrong with your computer, that is a large blank area in the middle.
Soon after, in 1963, the American company Replogle responded with a 6" lunar globe based on a NASA mission that duplicated the Luna 3 agenda. Still, large areas of this globe, which is shown here, were left blank, as they were not yet clearly seen. Promotional copy claimed that the globe was of great educational value and would make a fine gift for anyone interested in the space age. A seven-page booklet titled "The Story of the Moon" was included.
Not surprisingly, interest in the moon spiked in 1969, leading up to Neil Armstrong's small step. By this point, photographs taken from space made it possible to map the moon's entire surface in detail. Three globes from this heady moment are shown here. The first, from the collection of the National Museum of American History, was produced by the Adler Planetarium and Replogle. This one sits in a ring base. The second, from Rand McNally, is more stylish, includes a plastic transverse strip with latitudes, and sits on a lucite tripod base. The third, and most visually interesting of the lot, is topographical, and is perched atop a wooden pyramid base. It was produced in 1969 in a small edition by Educational Frontiers Inc of Forest Hills, NY. The head of the Hayden Planetarium pronounced it "one of the finest celestial models he had ever seen." So much so that CBS bought exclusive rights to use it for TV simulations on Walter Cronkite's coverage of the moon landing. How far removed from Avatar were those days?
Added for good measure is another 1960's lunar globe, this one actually used by NASA, from their archives. Oh, and before I forget, the Rand-McNally lunar globe pictured above is from my own website, probably has some educational value, and would surely make a fine gift for anyone interested in the space age.