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Book Reviews


Live TV From the Moon
Author: Dwight Steven-Boniecki

Publisher: Apogee Books

ISBN: 9781-926592-16-9

Price: $25.95 (Pb) 248pp plus DVD


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Television has always been associated with hysteria, no doubt because if only you can get yourself on it, you are assured of instant personal celebrity. Dwight Steven-Boniecki was born in Sydney, Australia, only months before Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in July 1969, but has neatly captured the spontaneous marriage between space exploration and television. They started life together and grew up by feeding upon one another.

He has spent his life working in TV, and in this book he tells reporters like me who were at Cape Canaveral and Houston watching it all happen before he could talk, things we did not know at the time. Why was it that Honeysuckle Creek in Australia got a much clearer picture of Armstrong’s descent to the lunar surface than we did? I have vivid memories of my personal panic trying to understand and describe the fuzzy, black-and-white, upside-down picture we were receiving as that historic event was taking place.

What had happened was that the controller at NASA’s Goldstone antenna panicked as the upside-down picture began to build on his screen, and made things worse by trying to compensate by changing the brightness and contrast settings. With a much bigger antenna than Australia’s, our picture would have been much better if he had left things alone.

For the technically-minded, Boniecki describes in detail the battle between RCA and Westinghouse to provide a TV camera able to withstand the low pressurisation on the moon - finally won by Westinghouse. For the layman it is more interesting to read how Frank Borman, the Apollo 8 commander who made history with his Christmas TV broadcast as he and his crew made the first circuit of the Moon, strongly resisted having to take the 12-pound TV camera when it necessitated leaving behind some of their meals to save weight.

That camera not only made TV stars of the crew but also convinced millions that they must rush out and buy a TV set. “I was very short-sighted,” Borman confessed.

Reginald Turnill

2009 Yearbook
This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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