Exhibition explores 300 years of lunar and celestial cartography

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Exhibition explores 300 years of lunar and celestial cartography
North American Rockwell: Map of the the Moon with JFK Quote. Published 1969.

LONDON.- The Map House presents a new exhibition entitled The Mapping of the Moon: 1669-1969 (21 June - 21 August), exploring 300 years of lunar and celestial cartography from early astronomers in the 17th century to the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 and beyond.

The Map House is the world’s oldest antiquarian map seller with over 100 years experience in the field of cartography and a leading dealer of fine original antique maps, globes and prints. The Mapping of the Moon will offer a unique insight into lunar and celestial exploration and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's historic landing.

Highlights from the exhibition include early 17th and 18th century observations of the moon from astronomers and polymaths Athanasius Kircher and Jean-Dominique Cassini, space race ephemera from international corporations marking the lunar landing and signed material by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell.

20th Century Lunar Maps, Globes & Memorabilia
With the launch of Russia’s satellite Sputnik I in 1957 and the first manned space flight mission by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961, the space race between Russia and the U.S. had begun. Capturing the imaginations of millions around the world, the space race created a boom in aerospace manufacturing. Skilled geographical departments were tasked with providing maps to guide the way. Esteemed institutions and observatories assisted in producing highly detailed lunar maps, track charts and photographs. The publication of moon maps was an important propaganda tool in the cold war, used to promote the space race.

The Map House brings together a curated collection of these, including the U.S. Air Force Lunar Wall Mosaic (1963), an amazingly detailed map compiled from thousands of photographs of the moon carefully jig-sawed together and accurately measured with telescopic viewing equipment and computers.

The exhibition also features signed memorabilia that evokes the celebrity status of the astronauts. These include a 1969 ‘internal use only’ map marking the historic Apollo 11 landing site in the Sea of Tranquility signed by Buzz Aldrin and a Philip’s map of the moon showing all six Apollo program landing sites signed by Neil Armstrong. Also on display a signed large-format photograph of Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean on the moon in November 1969, with a poignant quote from author Rudyard Kipling.

This period also saw the creation of artists impressions, designed to present scientific information in a visually appealing and accessible way. A striking example is a vision of the moon with five potential landing sites marked, produced by aerospace manufacturer North American Rockwell published prior to the landing in July 1969. The map is accompanied by a romantic introduction to the upcoming mission and a simple version of NASA’s Lunar Landing Mission diagram. Around the moon are written lines from President Kennedy’s famous speech to Congress in May 1961: "No single space project in this period will be more exciting or more impressive to mankind or more important for the long-range exploration of space."

17th-20th Century Astronomical Objects
The Mapping of the Moon will also offer visitors a broader history of lunar and celestial mapping, illustrating mankind’s fascination with the night sky. Maps, globes, lightboxes, star charts and 3D models dated from 1660s onwards show our natural compulsion to look beyond our home planet.

Tycho Brahe’s map of the solar system, with the sun and moon both orbiting the earth shows an extraordinary attempt to combine the then current astronomical observations with the accepted classical model. The exhibition will also include 19th century educational charts showing the constellations and phases of the moon, an extraordinarily rare brass model of the solar system dated 1872, and a stunning blue and gold early 20th century celestial globe illustrated with the zodiac.

In recognition of the continued interest in the moon the exhibition will also feature a collection of miniature moon globes created by contemporary artist Loraine Rutt of the Little Globe Co.

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