Sotheby's are having an auction
that will make your mouths water
and your minds wander to Junior’s college fund. It includes photographs from the earliest days of astrophotography and snapshots taken by Apollo
astronauts. Many of you will understand how these individual pieces are also profound symbols. They represent peaks in the progress of humanity, the
evolution of technology and highlight our place in the local cosmos; they symbolise the better qualities of the human spirit.
My breath was taken by the beauty of this Moon image from 1855. Take a second and shift your perspective to the mid-19th Century – now hold it
there. The eye that framed this belonged to Warren De la Rue
who was, at that time,
making waves amongst astronomers and early physicists. From poor beginnings he invented one of the first
electric light bulbs at 25; a special
man, but not the reason why I caught my breath.
The beautiful picture (above)
can be said to
represent a more innocent time. Not in the sense that people were any better; more of the world itself. Very few people will have ever seen the Moon
in such detail and their awareness of local space would expand in an instant. For the world’s part, the oceans were teeming with life and
rainforests were still unexplored. Even the ‘dark heart of Africa’ was yet to hear the footsteps of missionaries or the whipcrack of rifle fire.
This next one fits with De la Rue’s in the way it epitomises innocence and the values of exploring the unknown. Whereas he was down here looking up,
this is taken from up there looking back at us. There’s a neat symmetry of purpose, isn’t there?
Now we’re in the ‘summer of love’ and it’s 1967. Down on Earth, people are rebelling and overturning the traditions that old De la Rue’s
society was taking for granted. Lunar Orbiter V gazes
back at a world
where Vietnam is burning and ‘All You Need is Love’ is at Number 1 in the charts. Imagine the cold and the silence out
there as Light My Fire
played down here to crescendos of violence and slaughter? It’s more
than just an image, right? It’s a context, a poem and it’s a lens to see ourselves through.
When I look through the catalogue all I see is human curiosity and step after step of history being created. The Lunar Orbiter image might one day be
hanging in a hall on another world. If it does, it'll be there as an embodiment of endeavour and as a testament to an Earth that might be
inhospitable. It could become a nostalgic icon and tagged with the legend, 'Home Sweet Home.' You never know.
Check out the rest of the auction lots and see what catches your eye.
N.B. Neil Armstrong's Moon dust is also for sale
in Moon dust collected by Neil
Armstrong to be sold at auction
edit on 7.15.2017 by Kandinsky because: (no reason given)