Moonwalker Number Twelve

Painting Completed May 2011
12 3/4 x 24 3/4 inches, Textured Acrylic With Moondust On Aircraft Plywood

On December 11, 1972, Harrison "Jack” Schmitt climbed down the ladder of the lunar module Challenger, to become the twelfth human from Planet Earth to set foot on the Moon.

Jack was like all of us that had gone before, in that he was skilled in the art of flying spaceships.  But he was unlike all of us that had gone before, in that he was a geologist who had been taught to fly, and we were pilots that had been taught geology.

Jack was a true geologist, and I believe that made a difference.

I have painted Jack with his gold visor part way up, as he appeared in the last photo taken of an astronaut on the Moon.  In that photo, taken by his fellow moonwalker, Gene Cernan, we can see his gold visor is half way up, but we can not see his face clearly because of the glare off the clear visor beneath.

Now the doctors back on Earth in Mission Control cautioned us to avoid raising our gold visors when we were on the lunar surface.  According to them, the risk to our eyes from the potentially harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun was just too great.  In fact, on several previous occasions capcom Bob Parker, after urging from our doctors, would transmit,  "Hey, Jack. We see your gold visor is up.  You may want to put it down out here in the Sun."

Jack would comment later at a technical debriefing back on Earth, "the best sun angle for seeing albedo and color differences is directly down-Sun.  Often, during the EVA's, I would have the gold visor down three-quarters to protect most of my face from the Sun, but for close-in examination I would look through the lower one-quarter to see more detail."

I don’t know exactly why Jack used his unorthodox technique, because geologists are different in their hearts and souls from pilots. Did he keep his visor part way up to see better rocks, or to see these old rocks better?

In my painting we can see Jack much better.  He hasn’t shaved in a few days, but has a big smile on his face.  For any geologist that has ever lived on Earth, this must be the ultimate field trip.