VIDEO: Space & Rocket Center

Posted In: Photos, Video

Several months ago, I stood outside on a chilly winter night, staring at the moon. Doing so is a rite of passage for budding photographers. Taking a nice photo of the moon is not a difficult task, though it requires some preparation. A tripod is a must, and it helps if you have a decent telephoto lens. Play around with shutter speeds and you’ll figure it out.

Yep, it looks cool. Let’s go walk on it.

The moon was particularly large and bright on that night. I was pleased with my photographs. Examining the moon with my camera gear sparked a renewed interest in space exploration. (The following week, I found and watched From the Earth to the Moon, an excellent documentary of the Apollo lunar exploration missions.) Of course, it’s impossible to gaze upon the moon without thinking about the men who have walked upon it.

It almost seems absurd. Even now, some four decades after the Apollo missions, the feat of humans walking on the moon is stunning. It’s such a spectacular achievement that many people cannot believe it really happened. But it did. And it happened during time when NASA computers were much less powerful than today’s average smart phone.

We travel to learn, to grow, and to expand our perspective. Perhaps no photograph has expanded the perspective of humanity better than “Earthrise
” – the snapshot taken by astronaut William Anders of the earth as seen from the moon. It’s one of the most important and influential photographs ever taken.

Simply one of the most powerful photographs ever taken.

The idea of moon exploration may seem a little heady, but there is a camping connection here. We discovered a nice little campground in Huntsville, Alabama. It’s got shade trees, full hookups, and costs a bargain $20 per night. Best of all, it’s located on the property of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

What the heck is this place doing in Alabama? For many years, Huntsville has played a crucial role at the heart of NASA. Back in NASA’s 1960s heydey, a German scientist named Werner Von Braun was busy engineering Apollo rockets in Huntsville. A lot of his life’s work (including, oddly enough, the dude’s living room) now resides at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is part theme park, part museum, and part summer camp. With regard to the latter, it’s the location of the famous “Space Camp” in which participants get a taste of the astronaut life.

I’ve never done Space Camp. And truthfully, the “theme park” portion of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center is pretty lame – an aging assortment of carnival rides boasting a half-hearted space theme. (“Hey kids, it’s the Tilt-a-Whirl G-force Simulator!”)

The best part of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, at least in my experience, is the museum. It’s fantastic. If you want to see and touch real deal space equipment, this is the place to go.


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