America’s Mysteries: Temptation of the Moon

The moon beckons and leaves us wondering about it secrets and its mysteries. Photo: NASA

The moon is as mysterious today as it was when man first gazed upon it, when Jules Verne first wrote about going there.

What’s so special about the moon?

We’ve been there and left our footprints on the surface.

The winds may have blown them away.

Then again, there may be no winds to disturb them.

The wise men said we’d never go to the moon.

We did it anyway.

Of course, Jules Verne said we could, and, if no one else, we believed Jules Verne.

He’s been called the father of science fiction, and he sat down in 1865 and wrote a novel he called From the Earth to the Moon.

For a century, it staggered the imagination of mankind.

He solved the greatest mystery of them all.

We just didn’t know it.

We just thought it was his imagination.

But he tempted the wanderlust inside us all.

Verne was only writing a book.

He was telling a story.

No one realized just how eerily accurate his predictions would really be.

Verne’s spacecraft carried three men.

So did Apollo 8 and Apollo 11.

Caleb Pirtle

Verne’s spacecraft was shot from a cannon named Columbiad.

NASA’s command module was named Columbia.

Verne’s spacecraft was made of aluminum, which was virtually unknown in 1865.

The Columbia was made almost entirely from aluminum.

Verne’s space exploration cost $12 billion in 1969 currency.

The Apollo program cost $14 billion.

Verne’s spacecraft weighed 19,250 pounds.

Apollo 8 weighed 26,275 pounds.

To slow its speed, Verne’s spacecraft used retro-rockets, which hadn’t been invented then.

Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 used retro-rockets, which had been invented a hundred and six years later.

The space pioneers in Verne’s novel considered seven sites in both Texas and Florida for a lunch site before settling on Stone Hill, just south of Tampa.

NASA considered seven sites in both Texas and Florida for a lunch site before settling on Cape Canaveral, just west of Tampa.

Verne’s spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

So did Apollo 8.

A U. S. Navy vessel picked up crew members from both space shots.

Verne’s was named The Susquehanna.

Apollo’s was named The Hornet.

And the question remains.

How did Verne know so much so many years ago?

He had a scientific mind and was intrigued with the impossible.

He taught us how it was done.

Verne never made it to the moon.

We did.

But there it sits in the sky and glares back at us night after night.

Sometimes large.

Sometimes the size of a fingernail.

Mostly the moon is the color of alabaster.

But it can be orange.

Often harvest gold.

And sometimes the color of a strawberry.

The moon is as mysterious today as it was when man first saw it, when Verne first wrote about going there, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked among its craters.

We didn’t learn much.

At least we weren’t told much.

The moon keeps its secrets, its mysteries.

And it talks only to lovers at night and to writers who envision other worlds on the far side of a land where only our imaginations dare to tread.

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