Long before the Apollo 11 put a man on lunar soil, the Moon had been photographed via unmanned missions and telescopes. An upcoming exhibition here traces how the lunar surface was captured starting as early as the 1850s.
The photo-show “By the Light of the Silvery Moon: A Century of Lunar Photographs” opens at the National Gallery of Art here on July 14. It presents 50 works from the 19th century to the ‘space-age’ 1960s.
On view would be a select survey of lunar photographs, including a late 1850s glass stereograph of the full Moon, a few 1865 albumen prints capturing the Moon’s different phases, and plates of different lunar areas from the late 1800s.
It is notable that photography was introduced in 1839, and Moon, since the advent, had been a major field of exploration.
This exhibition is curated by Diane Waggoner, curator of 19th-century photographs at the American gallery.
“As NASA planned where to land Apollo 11, the unmanned American Ranger, Surveyor, and Lunar Orbiter spacecraft journeyed to the Moon and transmitted images, creating otherworldly photographs not only of the lunar areas visible from the Earth, but also of the Moon’s far side,” the gallery said in a statement.
From more recent times, display will be a selection of photographs from these missions. From Apollo 11, glass stereographs taken by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin show close-up views of three-inch-square areas of the lunar surface.
Also on view are several NASA photographs of the astronauts on the Moon, such as Armstrong planting the American flag and the iconic image of the astronaut’s footprint in the lunar soil, and press photographs were taken both before and after the mission.
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969.