“Picturing Apollo 11” Makes top 10 Creative Books to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary with My Modern Met.

10 Creative Books to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Best Books on 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.

 

Best Books on Moon LandingPicturing 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.

 

Best Books on Moon LandingThe 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.

 

Best Books on Moon LandingHasselblad & 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.

 

Best Books on Moon LandingMoon 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 Landing AnniversaryMoon: 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.”

 

Moon Landing AnniversaryApollo’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 photographApollo’s Muse showcases the history of photographic representations of the moon from daguerreotypes to video art.

 

Moon Landing AnniversaryEarthrise: 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.

 

Moon Landing AnniversaryWe 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.

 

Best Books on Moon LandingApollo 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.

 

 

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Picturing Apollo 11 in LA Times Top 8 Apollo Anniversary Book Reviews

The Apollo 11 mission to the moon launched 50 years ago. These 8 books tell the story

Buzz Aldrin’s 1969 moonwalk

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin walks on the moon. He and Neil Armstrong their historic landing on July 20, 1969.
(NASA)

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.

 

Picturing Apollo 11: Rare Views and Undiscovered Moments

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The Quest for Unpublished Photos of Apollo 11.

The Quest for Unpublished Photos of Apollo 11

10102018133123_500x500By 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.

The Apollo 11 Saturn V at sunset at LC-39A on July 2, 1969. (Photo by Tiziou News Service)
The Apollo 11 Saturn V at sunset at LC-39A on July 2, 1969. (Photo by Tiziou News Service)
Aldrin with the LM behind him shortly after he has deployed the SWC. If the photo is enlarged, Armstrong can be seen reflected in Aldrin’s visor. Visible on the front of Aldrin’s suit are his PLSS Remote Control Unit and camera bracket. (NASA)
Aldrin with the LM behind him shortly after he has deployed the SWC. If the photo is enlarged, Armstrong can be seen reflected in Aldrin’s visor. Visible on the front of Aldrin’s suit are his PLSS Remote Control Unit and camera bracket. (NASA)

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.

Armstrong appears relaxed while wearing a space suit and floating in a tank in October 1963 during water survival training at the Naval Aircrew Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. (NASA)
Armstrong appears relaxed while wearing a space suit and floating in a tank in October 1963 during water survival training at the Naval Aircrew Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. (NASA)
Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins (left to right) during recovery training on the deck of MV Retriever in the Gulf of Mexico (off the coast of Galveston, Texas) on May 24, 1969. (NASA)
Aldrin, Armstrong, and Collins (left to right) during recovery training on the deck of MV Retriever in the Gulf of Mexico (off the coast of Galveston, Texas) on May 24, 1969. (NASA)

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.

Aldrin (left) meets with astronauts Ron Evans (center) and Schmitt during a lunar surface experiment deployment simulation on January 21. Aldrin examines a Hasselblad 500 EL Data Camera similar to one he would use on the lunar surface. Evans was a member of the Apollo 11 astronaut “third string” support crew. (NASA)
Aldrin (left) meets with astronauts Ron Evans (center) and Schmitt during a lunar surface experiment deployment simulation on January 21. Aldrin examines a Hasselblad 500 EL Data Camera similar to one he would use on the lunar surface. Evans was a member of the Apollo 11 astronaut “third string” support crew. (NASA)
Armstrong is contemplative following the June 18 session. He had recently received thousands of suggestions regarding what his first words on the Moon should be. (NASA)
Armstrong is contemplative following the June 18 session. He had recently received thousands of suggestions regarding what his first words on the Moon should be. (NASA)

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 crane prepares to lift Apollo 11’s S-II booster off a workstand in the transfer aisle of the VAB on February 6, 1969. The 81.5-foot-tall and 33-foot-diameter S-II was built by North American Rockwell in Seal Beach, California, and, powered by five J-2 engines, produced approximately 1,000,000 pounds of thrust. (NASA)
A crane prepares to lift Apollo 11’s S-II booster off a workstand in the transfer aisle of the VAB on February 6, 1969. The 81.5-foot-tall and 33-foot-diameter S-II was built by North American Rockwell in Seal Beach, California, and, powered by five J-2 engines, produced approximately 1,000,000 pounds of thrust. (NASA)
Tourists take in the rocket and spacecraft display at KSC Visitor Center. “Apollo fever” was gripping the country as KSC became the focal point for the upcoming Moon launch. More than 8,000 people were touring the Moonport daily in the week leading up to the launch. (Photo by Tiziou News Service)
Tourists take in the rocket and spacecraft display at KSC Visitor Center. “Apollo fever” was gripping the country as KSC became the focal point for the upcoming Moon launch. More than 8,000 people were touring the Moonport daily in the week leading up to the launch. (Photo by Tiziou News Service)

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.

Spectators in a parking lot near the VAB wave an American flag as Apollo 11 begins its journey to the Moon. The Saturn’s automatic engine shutdown function was inhibited during the first thirty seconds to prevent the vehicle from falling back onto the pad during a launch failure, seen as the least preferable option at that stage of the flight. (Photo by Tiziou News Service)
Spectators in a parking lot near the VAB wave an American flag as Apollo 11 begins its journey to the Moon. The Saturn’s automatic engine shutdown function was inhibited during the first thirty seconds to prevent the vehicle from falling back onto the pad during a launch failure, seen as the least preferable option at that stage of the flight. (Photo by Tiziou News Service)
Details of the flight were eagerly devoured; the News Citizen was a local Houston-area newspaper. (Photo by Tiziou News Service)
Details of the flight were eagerly devoured; the News Citizen was a local Houston-area newspaper. (Photo by Tiziou News Service)

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.

Government and industry engineers monitor the Apollo 11 CDDT in firing room 1 on July 2, 1969. Approximately 450 persons were present during the test. (NASA)
Government and industry engineers monitor the Apollo 11 CDDT in firing room 1 on July 2, 1969. Approximately 450 persons were present during the test. (NASA)
Members of the flight control team at Mission Control in Houston wave U.S. flags and light up cigars at the successful conclusion of the mission on July 24. (NASA)
Members of the flight control team at Mission Control in Houston wave U.S. flags and light up cigars at the successful conclusion of the mission on July 24. (NASA)

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.


Pickering_JL-Credit-JStevenJordanJ. 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.