I am happy to announce that our book “Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments” is back in stock on Amazon.
10 Creative Books to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing
The 50th anniversary of the moon landing is on July 20, 2019. Looking for a way to celebrate this amazing human achievement? Just pick up a book! Books about the moon landing offer a detailed look at the event that left an indelible mark on our culture—including rare and never-before-seen images.
To help you wade through the massive selection of titles, we’ve picked some great books about the moon landing. One publication, titled The Moon 1968 – 1972, gives us a first-hand look at what Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin saw while walking its surface—literally. The book features images taken from their Hasselblad cameras and curates from a staggering 1,400 pictures. In doing so, it gives you an overall sense of what it was like to be looking down on the Earth.
Some of the publications on our list aren’t focused on the 1969 moon landing, specifically, but they demonstrate how artists and photographers are influenced by it. Color of the Moon: Lunar Painting in American Art, for instance, highlights the different ways in which artists have recreated the celestial body. Moon Viewing: Megaliths by Moonlight is another book that shares how monoliths, created by man, are illuminated by Earth’s satellite. While incredible in scale, the megaliths still pale in comparison to the moon that looms from way above.
Check out our picks for creative books on the moon landing and beyond, below.
Here are the best creative books about the moon landing (and beyond). They are a great way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic event.
Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments by J. L. Pickering and John Bisney
Picturing Apollo 11 offers a new photographic history of the iconic space mission. It features “unpublicized and recently discovered images” that highlight the people, places, and events that helped Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin successfully land on the moon.
The Color of the Moon: Lunar Painting in American Art by Hudson River Museum
The moon is an alluring subject for American painters. Through an exhibition organized at the Hudson River Museum, this accompanying catalog showcases the different ways in which artists have explored the celestial body.
The Moon 1968 – 1972 by E.B. White and John Kennedy
The Apollo missions sent many men into space between the years of 1968 and 1972. Although each was well-documented, the astronauts were given cameras to snap pictures. Included is writing by the likes of E.B. White and President John Kennedy, making the book an exploration of the sublimity of space.
Hasselblad & the Moon Landing by Deborah Ireland
Similar to The Moon 1968 – 1972, Deborah Ireland’s book Hasselblad & the Moon Landingis an examination of the shots that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin snapped using their Hasselblad 500EL cameras. While it shares these firsthand images of the moon, the work also touches on the challenge of creating a camera that could take these pictures in the first place.
Moon Viewing: Megaliths by Moonlight by Barbara Yoshida
Megalithic monuments (such as Stonehenge) are found around the world. Barbara Yoshida documents these monoliths with 10 years of travel, and her published work showcases how the giant stones look against the moon and stars.
Moon: The Art, Science and Culture of the Moon by Alexandra Loske and Robert Massey
We are endlessly fascinated with the moon and express our allure for it through storytelling, artwork, and, of course, scientific explorations. Alexandra Loske and Robert Massey trace the visual history of the moon in this “illuminating volume.”
Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography by Mia Fineman and Beth Saunders
The field of photography has undergone immense changes since the advent of the first photograph. Apollo’s Muse showcases the history of photographic representations of the moon from daguerreotypes to video art.
Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth by Robert Poole
What happened when our imagined visions of Earth met the reality of it? Earthrise is the story of the first photographs of Earth from outer space and the impact it had on our culture, science, and religion.
We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program by Richard Paul and Steven Moss
The Space Age began as the fight for civil rights “forced Americans to confront the long and bitter legacy of slavery, discrimination, and violence against African Americans.” During this time, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used federal equal employment opportunity laws to open jobs at NASA and NASA contractors to African Americans. Authors Richard Paul and Steven Moss profile 10 African American space workers whose roles at NASA and the space program helped promote civil rights.
Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects by Teasel E. Muir-Harmony
Using 50 artifacts from the Smithsonian archives, author Teasel E. Muir-Harmony tells the story of the Apollo 11 landing and man’s subsequent walk on the moon. The curated objects range from the lunar rover to space food to moon rocks, and each tells an interesting story that ultimately helped make the mission a success.
The Apollo 11 mission to the moon launched 50 years ago. These 8 books tell the story
Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most remarkable moments in American history: the day that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. The Apollo 11 mission remains one of NASA’s most incredible achievements, and photographs from the moon landing are some of the most recognizable images in the world.
If you’re interested in the stories behind the historic mission (or are the parent of a young space buff), there’s no shortage of reading material that will help you understand Apollo 11 and the turbulent history of the era in which it took place. Here are eight books inspired by the moonshot for readers of all ages.
“Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11,” James Donovan
Dallas author Donovan’s new book is a narrative chronicle of the famous NASA voyage set against the backdrop of the Cold War. Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins called the book “extensively researched and meticulously accurate” and “the best book on Apollo that I have read.”
“One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission That Flew Us to the Moon,” Charles Fishman
Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins tend to get all the glory, but the moonshot was the result of hard work by hundreds of people whose names aren’t as familiar to most Americans. Fishman’s 2019 book takes a look at the scientists, mathematicians and factory workers who helped make Apollo 11 a success.
“The NASA Archives: 60 Years in Space,” Piers Bizony, Andrew Chaikin and Roger Launius
Publisher Taschen is known for its elaborately constructed and gorgeous art books. Its new volume about NASA is an illustrated history of the space agency that features more than 400 photographs documenting America’s history in space. In a review for the L.A. Times, Drew Tewksbury wrote that the book “catalogs with beautiful detail the rapid pace of scientific and engineering advances during the 20th-century space race.”
“Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11,” Brian Floca
Kids with an interest in space will likely be fascinated by this story of the moon landing from award-winning children’s book author and artist Floca. The book tells the story of NASA’s historic mission, from takeoff to touchdown, using simple language and dramatic illustrations.
“Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson,” Katherine Johnson
Apollo 11 wouldn’t have been possible without Johnson, the mathematician whose work helped launch many of NASA’s most important projects. In her new autobiography for young readers, the 100-year-old Johnson (one of the subjects of the hit book and movie “Hidden Figures”) writes about her childhood and her remarkable career, when she was forced to deal with racism and sexism on a daily basis.
“The Penguin Book of Outer Space Exploration: NASA and the Incredible Story of Human Spaceflight,” edited by John Logsdon
Space-obsessed readers will likely find plenty to hold their interest in this curated collection of historical documents dealing with Apollo 11 as well as other NASA missions. Edited by the founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, the book features a foreword by everyone’s favorite science guy, television personality Bill Nye.
“I Love You, Michael Collins,” Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Baratz-Logsted’s 2017 book for middle-grade readers follows 10-year-old Mamie Anderson, whose class is given an assignment to write letters to the Apollo 11 astronauts. Mamie, whose family is in the midst of an upheaval, chooses the space explorer she has the greatest connection with: Michael Collins, the only one of the three astronauts who didn’t get to set foot on the moon.
“Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments,” J.L. Pickering and John Bisney
The Apollo 11 moon landing was responsible for some of the most iconic images in American history. In their new book, Pickering and Bisney present a host of never-before-seen photographs of the mission, including images of the three astronauts, the Kennedy Space Center and spectators gathered to watch history being made before their eyes.
The Quest for Unpublished Photos of Apollo 11
By J. L. Pickering, coauthor of Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments
This book is available at a discount price through July 31, 2019, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Order here and use code APOLLO.
How many photos of an historical event are “enough”? The answer likely depends on who you are. Let’s use the mission of Apollo 11, the first time humans landed on the moon, as an example. If you’re a casual student of history, the number of images that have been publicly available since 1969 are probably sufficient. If you’re more of space enthusiast, however, you want to see more, since they would add to your understanding and appreciation of what transpired.
But if you’re a true historian, the answer may be, “there are never enough!” That’s because each additional photo provides more detail and information, much like a movie showing the same scene from different angles. As someone who has been collecting, organizing, and archiving still photos from the U.S. manned space flight programs for 48 years, I fall into this category.
What is that astronaut holding during training? Who is the technician seen obliquely in one image but clearly in another (maybe his name can be deciphered by zooming in on his name badge)? But the desire to bring as many photos to light as possible goes beyond just factual reasons; sometimes, a more attractive version was overlooked or omitted.
The relatively small universe of photos released by NASA, however, was not nefarious but was determined by the demand. It’s important to remember that during the Apollo era, newspapers (almost all printing in black and white halftone) and general-interest magazines only needed so many photos; and digital reproduction and the Internet were still decades away.
In the intervening forty years, attention also turned to what would end up as something of a temporary future: the space shuttle program, lasting from 1981–2011. When digital photography arrived during the 1990s, the number of shuttle images exploded and “storing” them was not a problem. Meanwhile, however, tens of thousands of celluloid negatives and prints from the past Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs were packed away and eventually sent from NASA’s field centers to the National Archives.
A significant cache of material ended up in a spare railroad boxcar parked in the Florida heat and humidity near the Launch Complex 39 Press Site, and after years of neglect, was headed to a local landfill. A few concerned retirees managed to save thousands of prints. Many of them, however, had already been released (or at least made available to the media) during the 1970s. The bulk of physical Apollo-era photography was eventually boxed up and sent to one of three National Archives facilities in Maryland, Texas, or Georgia. In the past few years I have spent many weeks and dollars at these facilities scanning and “liberating” images from color negatives that were never printed.
Many of these photos—and others I have obtained from private sources—form the core of the space history photo books I produce with my coauthor, former news correspondent John Bisney. Our goal is always to go beyond the “greatest hits” to bring readers a wealth of great new images they would never otherwise see. These locked-away photos, taken on the ground as opposed to the more famous (and fully released) in-flight images snapped by the astronauts, capture moments in time, split seconds in history that will never be repeated. They’re filled with far more than astronauts and spacecraft—instead they reveal the men and women behind the successes and failures of the early U.S. manned space program. We see their emotions, their workplaces, and glimpses of their everyday lives and culture on the job.
This is why I continue to persevere to try to overcome a less-than-helpful federal bureaucracy not particularly interested in devoting resources to releasing images from half a century ago, now languishing in government warehouses. John and I are always delighted to bring you the results.
J. L. Pickering, coauthor (with John Bisney) of Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments, has been archiving rare space images for some forty years. Drawing from NASA archives, retired NASA personnel, news photographers, and other sources, his collection numbers more than 120,000 high-resolution prints and images. He covered the final Apollo/Saturn launch in 1975 and attended numerous Space Shuttle launches. Today he serves as a resource and expert for authors, documentary filmmakers, museums, former astronauts, and even NASA. He lives in Bloomington, Illinois.
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Here at Space.com, we’re gearing up for the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 moon landing in July — and with that anniversary comes a barrage of books explaining, analyzing and grappling with humankind’s first foray to another world. Get in the anniversary spirit with the below, which are just some of the many, many new books looking back at this pivotal milestone and forward to future moon missions.
Jump through the sections above, or read on for our lists of Apollo retellings; books on the moon, past and future; understanding Apollo; and Apollo photo books.
We are happy to participate in this event June 1st, from 8:30 to 10:00 pm, for a talk and book signing of Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments.
Science Night Live at Orlando Science Center is your chance to spark your curiosity through fun exhibits and programs… with some adult beverages, of course!
Bring your friends or make a date night of enjoying a unique experiences featuring workshops in The Hive, experiments in Dr. Dare’s Lab, special guest speakers, entertainment, and so much more!
Science Night Live Speakers
Each Science Night Live guests have the chance to hear from some of the greatest minds around!
From Boeing engineers who work on spacecrafts to professors talking about the species within your feces, these speakers are guaranteed to leave you with a new sense of knowledge each and every Science Night Live.
Featured This Event:
Joseph Donoghue, Coastal Marine Geologist, University of Central Florida
Dr. Donoghue, a faculty member of the Planetary Sciences Program in the Department of Physics at UCF presents Knowledge vs. Belief in Climate Change. This expert in climate change will examine coastal processes and climate misinformation and disinformation that have obscured the fact that climate has been changing constantly for most of Earth’s history.
Picturing Apollo 11 – Talks and book signing with authors J.L. Pickering and John Bisney
Journey through this unprecedented photographic history of the space mission that defined an era. Contribute to conversations with historian and authority J.L. Pickering who has archived rare space images for more than 40 years and journalist John Bisney who has covered the space program for CNN, the Discovery Science Channel, and SiriusXM Radio.
Science Night Live Workshops
Step into The Hive: A Makerspace and walk out with a new sense of creativity. Whether you’re making friendship bracelets or recycled costumes – you and your friends will create lasting memories during Science Night Live Workshops.
Then, make your way to Dr. Dare’s Lab, strap on a pair of goggles and a lab coat and become the scientist in these self-led experiments.
Featured This Event:
Head to The Hive to create your own unique fish printed re-usable tote bags.
Have you ever dissected a squid? Now’s your chance! Need we say more?
Science Night Live Programs
Whether it’s the interactive Science Live! Show, competitive Science Trivia, or looking to the stars on the terrace, the Orlando Science Center staff prepares unique and exciting programs for your to enjoy during Science Night Live.
Featured This Event:
Don’t miss the all-new Science Live! Show, enter the Dojo and learn about the science of ninjas, take part in special Science Trivia, attend a Reef Talk in NatureWorks, and more.
Science Night Live Exhibits
Explore the science center without the kids! From KineticZone to our traveling exhibit, there’s no age limit on fun and curiosity.
Featured This Event:
Be one of the first to explore the Orlando Science Center’s newest traveling exhibit: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer!
Plus, explore all four floors of the Science Center, and enjoy food and adult beverages!
Tickets to Science Night Live at the Orlando Science Center are are available now for ONLY $16, and guests must be 21 to attend.
Thank you Dr. Brian Laslie for the review!
J.L. Pickering and John Bisney, Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2019. Hbk. 264 pp.
A different type of book necessitates a different type of book review. Herein you will not find an author’s argument or a critique thereof since the book being discussed today is a collection of photographs and an excellent one at that. J.L. Pickering and John Bisney have brought us Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments. As we approach the 50thanniversary of the first moon landing, there is sure to be a proliferation of all sorts of materials, merchandise, and collectables celebrating one of, if not the defining moment of the 20th Century and in what will undoubtedly be a crowded field, it will be difficult for printed works to stand out. Pickering and Bisney have accomplished just that, a unique look at the Apollo 11 mission through photographs: both official and candid – many of which have never been published before.
It is common practice for me that when a book arrives in my mailbox, I will take a few minutes and flip through it. It should be noted that when Picturing Apollo 11arrived on my doorstep, I stopped what I was doing, sat down, and read the entire book (insert joke here about my ‘reading’ a picture book). However, this extremely well-done book did what few other works can do, it stopped me in my tracks. Divided into nine chapters, the book covers everything from the assembly of their Saturn V, training for the mission, all the way through the triumphant return home. Rather than review the book as you might typically find on the site, I have decided to highlight some of my favourite photographs from the book.
Any of the shots of the Saturn V rocket, Service Module, Command Module, or Lunar Module arriving at the Cape and being ‘processed’ and stacked are compelling. However, I found myself especially drawn to photos of the Command Module (CM) wrapped in the protective blue plastic covering (p. 51) – this was how Apollo Nine’s CM came to be known as ‘Gumdrop.’ If you have ever viewed one of the Apollo CMs in a museum setting – I am currently trying to see them all – you have only ever seen the scorched and burned relic after its re-entry. There is something inexplicably ‘technological’ when you view the CM as it was before being mounted on the Service Module; the newness and perfection of the CM in its original state are fascinating. It is also especially entertaining to see the many ‘Remove Before Flight’ banners hanging about the CM as if it has been decorated with red sprinkles in addition to its blue wrapping.
I also enjoyed many of the candid shots of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins during training (pp. 71-80) or visiting (pp. 82-8) the Apollo support sites around the country. Sixties fashion is on full display in these pages and as representative of the times as the astronaut’s moon suits! In this vein, there is an excellent shot of a group of the Apollo Astronauts at the US Navy Diving School in Key West, Florida; love the paisley shirt, Neil!
Military pilots love the T-38, and NASA used the versatile training aircraft to keep up the astronaut’s proficiencies, but also as a way for the astronauts to travel rapidly across the country from Texas to Florida, California, and Missouri. Here, there is an excellent shot of Armstrong and NASA’s Flight Crew Operations Director Deke Slayton (p. 95) strolling away from their parked T-38; while Armstrong looks conservative in his blue flight suit, Slayton looks every bit the fighter pilot and a bit more devil-may-care. Their personalities come forth in the photograph: Armstrong the Engineer, Slayton, the tough-as-nails director.
The pictures from all the moon landings are amazing, but as better equipment was sent up on later missions, those shots became increasingly more precise and crisper. Armstrong and Aldrin suffered from being the first in this regard, but modern photographic enhancement has brought the Apollo 11 shots into better relief. In this regard, my favourite photograph in the book is a shot of Aldrin and the American Flag (p. 193), where if you look close enough, you can clearly see Aldrin’s face inside the suit looking towards Armstrong. As you may know the pictures of Armstrong on the lunar surface are limited, but a great photograph of a relaxed looking Armstrong back inside the Eagle smiling after the EVA was completed sums up his feelings after landing and walking on the moon.
Picturing Apollo 11 is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is a truly unique work and a compelling collection of photographs that is sure to fire the imagination of those who remember the mission and those looking retrospectively at an event they were not around to see. As I closed the book, I again wondered, when will we return?
After you have ordered Picturing Apollo 11, I also highly encourage you to pick up a copy of Apollo VII-XVII a photographic journey through all the Apollo missions.
Dr Brian Laslie is an Air Force Historian and currently the Deputy Command Historian at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). A 2001 graduate of The Citadel and a historian of air power studies, he received his PhD from Kansas State University in 2013. His first book The Air Force Way of War (2015) was selected for the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s and the Royal Air Force’s Chief of the Air Staff professional reading lists. His recently published Architect of Air Power: General Laurence S. Kuter and the Birth of the US Air Force. He lives in Colorado Springs. He can be found on Twitter at @BrianLaslie.
Header Image: On 1 March 1968, the Saturn S-IC-6 arrived at the Mississippi Test Facility – today’s NASA Stennis Space Center – from the Michoud Assembly Facility. The was the first stage section of the Saturn V rocket the took Apollo 11 into space. (Source: NASA)
Picturing Apollo 11
“50 years ago this July, Neil Armstrong took ‘one giant leap for mankind’ as he became the first human to step foot on the moon’s surface—and now, never-before-seen pictures provide a unique glimpse behind the profound 1969 voyage.”—Daily Mail
“Across 10 well-organized chapters, the selected images capture the country’s mounting excitement; the meticulous preparation of astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins; and finally the moon landing itself and the crew’s return to Earth. . . . The reader is left with an ample sense of the astronauts’ fame and, thanks to Pickering and Bisney’s wise selections, of their lasting accomplishment.”—Publishers Weekly
“Focused almost exclusively on the three astronauts of Apollo 11, this profusely illustrated book recounts the adventure of the first Moon landing.”—Roger D. Launius, former associate director of collections and curatorial affairs, National Air and Space Museum
“A visual feast. We’re right alongside Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, and Buzz Aldrin through the months of training, the incredible journey to the Moon, and the hero’s welcome that greeted their return. Pickering and Bisney have produced a precious chronicle of a time that will never come again.”—Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts
“Visually engaging and comprehensive. From training to splashdown, from the Saturn V towering on the launchpad to intimate moments among the crew, Picturing Apollo 11offers a rich portrait of the first lunar landing.”—Teasel Muir-Harmony, author of Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects
“Apollo 11 was humanity’s greatest achievement. Pickering and Bisney have collected some of the best images of little-known events from the lead-up to humankind’s first steps on another world.”—Jason Rhian, senior editor, SpaceFlight Insider
“A vivid reminder that Apollo 11 was not only an astonishing technological accomplishment but also a deeply human one.”—Ron Miller, coauthor of Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space
July 16, 1969. Nearly one million spectators flock to Cape Canaveral to witness the largest rocket ever built send three Americans to the Moon. Four days later, two step onto the lunar surface. The extraordinary achievement is celebrated around the world. Images capturing these incredible moments fill the pages of Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments, an unprecedented photographic history of the space mission that defined an era.
Through a wealth of unpublished and recently discovered images, this book presents new and rarely seen views of the people, places, and events involved in planning, accomplishing, and commemorating the first Moon landing. Starting with the extensive preparations for the mission, these photographs show astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins training for the flight and their spacecraft and stages of the massive Saturn V rocket arriving at the Kennedy Space Center for assembly. They display the media frenzy over the unfolding story and the “Moon fever” that gripped the nation. In addition to both ubiquitous and lesser-known images of the moonwalk itself, the authors present life back on Earth while men explored the lunar surface, as well as the anniversary festivities that paid homage to them in the following decades. Accompanying text details each scene, revealing the enormous scale and scope of the activities that went into planning and executing one of humankind’s most historic moments.
Presented chronologically, each picture evokes the electric atmosphere of the time. No other book has showcased as many never-before-seen photos connected with Apollo 11 or as many images covering the activities from the months before to the years after the mission. Most of the hundreds of photographs were selected from NASA archives and J. L. Pickering’s collection, the world’s largest private collection of U.S. human space flight images.
J. L. Pickering is a spaceflight historian and authority who has been archiving rare space images for more than 40 years. John Bisney is a journalist who has covered the space program for CNN, the Discovery Science Channel, and SiriusXM Radio. Together, they have coauthored Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History, Moonshots and Snapshots of Project Apollo: A Rare Photographic History, and The Space-Age Presidency of John F. Kennedy: A Rare Photographic History.
To see images from Picturing Apollo 11, check out the video below: