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Apollo 11 moon landing – but don't trust the film



But there is no doubt where the public imagination is focused. Conversations as the week progressed were increasingly occupied by men who slid to the moon. Fashion models from agencies in Sydney show clothes that are suitable for & # 39; Moon Clothing & # 39; (maybe a little less for Sea Tranquility where overnight temperatures can drop to minus 173 C).

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Even Column Eight (on the front page at that time) participated in the action: If you feel a little confused with all the knowledge and computerization this month, take heart. Said an American psychology professor: "The human brain is a computer honey." It was comfort at the time.

That BentaraThe story of the front page picture is as follows: & # 39; The Parkes radio telescope, Australia's main contribution to the moon shot of Apollo, was ready to receive television pictures of the first human steps on the moon. Links with the Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, will be tested again tomorrow. & # 39;

But it was not like that. If your knowledge of landings is based on watching a 2001 film Dish (Sam Neill) then you need to revise your history.

Parkes of course delivered a picture of Neil Armstrong as he left the moon module and prepared to take a "small step". But the first picture was delivered live to about 60 million viewers during the first eight minutes, sent by the lesser-known Honeysuckle Creek tracking station, about half an hour south of Canberra. That's not worth mentioning in the film.

Honeysuckle Creek in Namadgi National Park is at the end of a winding track called Apollo Road. Despite being at the forefront of interplanetary communication half a century ago, today there is no cellphone cover to contact NRMA, 30 kilometers away in Canberra.

The fashion moon parade model in the Sydney CBD on July 14, 1969, ahead of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

The fashion moon parade model in the Sydney CBD on July 14, 1969, ahead of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.Credit:SMH

When you get there, there's not much left to see. The Honeysuckle dish (not as big as Parkes) has been removed and what is left of office buildings that house banks of electronic equipment is the concrete foundation on which they once stood.

So why use a smaller plate than brother in Parkes? The reason is that Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin chose not to plan to sleep before starting the lunar journey. That means the trip happened before with the moon too low on the horizon for Parkes to dip a giant dish low enough to get a picture.

On Saturday the ACT government will celebrate the important role played by Honeysuckle Creek with the opening of a memorial work featuring historic words "One small step …" US Ambassador to Australia, Arthur B Culvahouse Jr. and Australian-born NASA astronaut Dr. Andrew Thomas will be there.

So were former tracking station employees, including Michael Dinn, who was a deputy director at the time and now in his 80s.

    Mike Dinn, former deputy director at Honeysuckle Creek with a dish now transferred to Tidbinbilla.

Mike Dinn, former deputy director at Honeysuckle Creek with a dish now transferred to Tidbinbilla.Credit:Karleen Minney

The Canberra living room is a celebration of all things of the month. A small, round gray carpet in front of the television is a map of the moon. All work surfaces are covered by anniversary invitations, brochures, books and more. There are collector commemorative coin sets issued by the Royal Australian Mint. There's Mike in the background on a one-dollar coin.

Does that bother him that Parkes is getting praise? "Sort of … yes and no. They had the wrong information on the Parkes telescope for 20 years. I visited there regularly and I didn't bother making problems. I have a webpage called & # 39; The truth about Dish & # 39; It summarizes inaccuracies but I try hard to say that the film is far better than nothing.

"Number two, it's an entertaining film. Three, it's accurate around 70 or 80 percent, it's just that inaccurate in one thing, the main from my point of view, namely that television on the first day to the world was taken from the Honeysuckle antenna rather than from Parkes.

"Just like that, just eight minutes later the moon moved to the Parkes antenna, the signal was much better and our two signals were headed to Sydney where the selection was made when sent to Houston. The man in Sydney was called Houston:" I have a good picture of Parkes, do you want it? "And the man in Houston said," Yes, that's the best picture. "

Radio receiver engineer David Cooke, who monitored the signal in Parkes at the time, said they had two beams, one standby beam and one main beam. "We first took it on standby beams," he said.

David Cooke, radio engineer at Parkes Observatory.

David Cooke, radio engineer at Parkes Observatory.Credit:John M Sarcissian

"After that when we finished the track, I went outside, I had a camera and I took pictures, I looked up and saw the moon and I thought it was amazing. There were three people there and we helped put it there. Let's hope we get it back. "

Do you have a Sydney story about watching humans walk on the moon? If so, we want to hear from you. tbarlass@smh.com.au

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