A Blue Moon Farewell

It is a fitting farewell to Neil Armstrong, and I wonder if his family planned it that way.

This evening, we will see a rare blue moon, a second full moon in a calendar month. So, tonight’s moon is definitely worth gazing at, as we fondly remember the first man who walked on the lunar landscape.

My memories of Neil Armstrong go back to 1968, one year before that auspicious moonwalk that touched so many aspects of our culture.

It was an exciting time in my hometown of Sudbury, Ontario.

Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were using Sudbury as a testing ground for their walk on the moon. Somehow, NASA had discovered that our bleak landscape—often compared to Hiroshima—would provide Aldrin and Armstrong with a ready-made lunar environment.

While we basked in the attention, the mayor and city council members were not too pleased with the negative publicity generated by this mixed blessing. The mining industry had done a great deal of damage to the local environment, releasing clouds of sulfur gas that affected the residents and nearby ecosystems. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the mining industry was finally forced to clean up their act.

That fall, the space program was the main focus of the Grade 9 science program and I remember clipping articles for my moon scrapbook and watching all the telecasts leading to the moonwalk on July 21, 1969.

Tonight, I intend to honor Neil Armstrong by winking at the blue moon.

Sudbury 2012