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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Sky At Night
Apollo 11 - A Night to Remember


Presenter: Patrick Moore
Acorn Media UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: E
Available 06 July 2009

On 20 July 1969, Apollo 11 became the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon. Piloted by veteran astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, Apollo 11 took its place in history. as one small step was taken on the lunar surface. Introduced by legendary astronomer, writer and television presenter Sir Patrick Moore, this DVD is released to coincide with the event's 40th anniversary...

The Sky at Night: Apollo 11 - A Night to Remember revisits the first lunar landing showing the most important sequences which were broadcast live to the world 40 years ago.

While a monumental historical achievement, anyone who didn't live through the event may find the actual footage a little boring. Basically, Armstrong and Aldrin touch down on the moon's surface, Aldrin gets out of the Eagle, cocks up his speech, gets out a small fishing net, grabs some moon dust, Aldrin comes down the ladder and for some reason jumps back up a rung several times before setting foot on the Moon's surface, and then the two astronauts jump around a bit before getting back in to the Eagle and heading back to the main ship.

What is interesting are the segments that take us behind the scenes of the space programme - including a look at the escape slide, an exploration of the inside of the command module, a ride on a zero gravity plane and a very detailed look at the different layers of the space suit.

Sir Patrick Moore also, rather subtly, attempts to debunk the conspiracy that the lunar landings were faked. He explains why you can't see any stars in any of the footage and why there are no shadows on the Moon's craters. He also comments on the dark sky when the astronauts were walking on the Moon in the daytime: "You can't replicate that on Earth". While he never mentions the conspiracy theories, it's clear why he's mentioning these elements. In addition Armstrong explains why there isn't a crater under the Eagle

And while where on the subject of Sir Patrick Moore... is it me or is he looking more and more like Batman's enemy The Penguin everyday?

We are told that, for some strange reason, a lot of the original footage has been lost. This I find astonishingly odd - especially when you consider the importance of the event. How on earth did the BBC manage to lose the original footage when it managed to archive quite a lot of other shows which are a lot less important (Doctor Who being a good example - even if there are still a lot of episodes that are lost).

Extras include The Sky at Night: Episode from 1960 (14 min, 57 sec which is interesting from the point of view that Moore's discussion on the possible, as was then, future lunar landings only mentions the Soviet Union and its space programme. The Soviet Union was way ahead of the Americans as far as space exploration, so it must have been a kick in the teeth when Uncle Sam beat them to Earth's satellite); and the text based Sir Patrick Moore Biography and Astronaut Biographies.

From a historical point of view this is interesting, but hardly an essential purchase, especially when you'll have seen the most important piece of footage a thousand times already.


Darren Rea

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