This Image Should Have Been on the Cover of Life Magazine

Painting Completed September 2011
7 1/2 x 16 inches, Textured Acrylic With Moondust On Aircraft Plywood


When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned to Earth from their historic mission to the Moon in July of 1969, the world's media was anxious and waiting. They needed color photos of this great adventure to show the people of planet Earth what it was really like way up there. Sure, many had seen it on small black-and-white television sets, but everyone wanted more. They wanted iconic pictures of the first man on the Moon. The first human to step anywhere other than planet Earth.

The film was rushed to the NASA photo lab in Houston. As soon as it was developed, the search began for the best shot of Neil Armstrong. "No, that's Buzz." "No, that one is Buzz, too." Now the searchers were starting to panic. Soon they were looking for any shot of Neil. There did not seem to be one.

Someone called Neil, who was fast asleep in isolation in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. "When did you give the camera to Buzz?" "I never did." "Thanks, Neil."

All the world was informed the next day, that the best and only image of the first man on the moon was the small reflection in the second man on the moon's visor. Indeed, a close-up of that visor reflection was on the cover of Life Magazine's next issue.

And so it was accepted as fact for almost seventeen years, until two British researchers independently realized that Buzz had also used the camera for two short periods and had indeed taken one image of Neil at work at the MESA, the Modular Equipment Stowage Assembly, at the front-right side of the lunar module.

I used that photo as the primary reference for this painting. In it we can see Neil closing the Bulk Sample rock box, containing a priceless collection of dusty gray moon rocks.

It is not the iconic photo we all wanted to see of Neil, and to have for future generations as a symbol of how humans just like you and me can accomplish an impossible dream, but it is the first man on the moon.

Neil had not handed the camera to Buzz, as the flight plan indicated that Neil was to place the camera on the MESA, from which Buzz was to pick it up when he was ready to take the photos he was scheduled to take. He then returned it to the MESA where Neil would pick it up later.

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