Race To The Moon with Richard Furno, Part 2 (Kelso)

Follow along with Richard’s first hand narration of how historic events shaped the map, the cutting edge science involved in assembling the photographic base material, and the many explanatory notes included on the final design. The wall map is a piece of art, please enjoy 🙂

Please join me in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Race to the Moon! Map co-author Richard Furno has allowed me to turn his keynote presentation into a post on my blog illustrating the trials and tribulations of creating this fabulous wall map for the National Geographic Society’s magazine.

This is part 2. Return to Part 1. View zoomable map at National Geographic.

Orbitor 5 Recap

Orbiters 1 through 4 had covered much of the Far Side (shown in green) but much was still missing. Orbiter 5 devoted time to photographing the rest of the unknown part of the Far Side, and as a result, nearly all of the remaining area was taken. After the mission’s success, NASA announced it had all the photos that would cover the Moon. I called NASA to see if their Far Side map was finished, since we would use it for our relief artist so he could render the relief map.

1967: NASA’S Moon Map

But, in fact, NASA had produced only a partial map of the Far Side and had no intention to finish a complete map of the Moon before our scheduled publication. What’s more, I was told that the one partial map they HAD prepared was put together very quickly and they could guarantee that the positional control of features was poor.

(Above) This is the 1976 edition of the map of that 1967 map which was probably greatly improved. It covered from 50 degrees south to 50 degrees north only. Eventually they would finish the polar maps to complete it but that didn’t happen until 1970, more than a year after we published the Moon map. This meant we would have to create our own positional control (selenodetic control) of the Moon’s Far Side features.

Selenodetic Control

Dave is adjusting the globe, I’m moving the camera box and Vic is moving the light.

So we had to come up with another answer. Actually, it was natural for me to think of a scheme to solve the selenodetic control problem. I had learned and done technical perspective drafting for my architect father and I knew picture planes, station points, vanishing points, 2 and 3-point perspective, etc. inside out. As many know, rectification of photos is an exercise in perspective. Unfortunately, I had little time to do the control and we had no rectification equipment. The photos had to be quickly prepared for Tibor to use as he was rapidly finishing his relief of the Near Side.

We needed a large globe in order to reproduce the Orbiter / Moon configurations. It needed a latitude longitude grid preferably without other obscuring information. Well, there just happened to be a one-meter globe in old Hubbard Hall. On the globe, drawn in black ink by hand, was a 5° grid and the shorelines of the earth. With that in hand, we needed a platform to mount it and a slidable camera. Dave and I came in hammers and saws and literally built this contraption, sometimes making up the design as we went

The globe was mounted on a pair of rolling pins. A plumb bob hung from overhead that pointed to a center line drawn the length of a platform and which aligned with the globe’s center. A camera was mounted on a box so its focal point was half a meter above the platform and directly over a  camera swivel. It could then be pointed in different directions while keeping its position directly above the platform’s center line. The platform was long enough in scale so all pictures would be within the range of all the Orbiter photos.

The setup made it possible to roll the globe into any position. We had a hinged measuring stick in front of the globe, with a half meter tick mark so we could align three key points, 1) a designated latitude longitude point (nadir point), 2) the center of the globe and 3) the camera focal point.


Dave Cook uses proportional dividers to mark the correct latitude and longitude for the camera’s Nadir point. The point is then set on the plumb bob string.

To take a picture of the globe, we followed these steps:

  1. Place the latitude longitude nadir point at the half meter point (by measuring stick) and in line with the tangential plumb bob.
  2. Move the camera to the scaled distance from the plumb bob (putting it directly “above” the nadir point)
  3. Mark the latitude longitude aiming point on the globe (we use a dark X on a piece of masking tape)
  4. Swivel the camera to aim at the Orbiter’s aiming point

The camera recorded a large film plate for accuracy (8 x 6 inches I think) and so the aiming point was clearly visible in the back of the camera. Vic Boswell did a miraculous job of lighting so that the negatives would show the grid lines all the way around the globe. He took about 5 or 6 exposures to ensure a decent one. Vic and I yakked constantly about “foreign cars” back in the day when they were still exotic. He had restored a 1948 MG TC which he drove around on sunny days.

Tibor’s Relief

Tibor is shown working on Tsiolkovsky crater on the Far Side hemisphere.

True rectification means taking distorted photos and removing the distortion. In our case, I would take the photographed grid, draft it onto the Orbiter photo and give it Tibor. He had to rectify the 5° gridded portion of photo in is head by visually subdividing the distorted photo square and mentally transferring the terrain onto a corresponding Lambert Azimuthal square.

Some photos were quite relatively perfect but many were severely foreshortened. While we took these pictures, Tibor was busy drawing the relief for the Near Side of the Moon. I needed to start giving him source material so it would be ready when he started work on the Far Side. Tibor drafted on some sort of paper. Other plates for the map were produced on cronoflex.

Selenodetic Control II

Same photo with Tsiolkovsky crater and holding the clear gridded overlay.

After getting the developed negatives, I had to calculate the correct size for the overlay positive, a more difficult task than I expected. The Orbiter photos were pieced together in strips, often slightly off register. Trying to size by the arc radius could be a tricky affair, but that and a couple of known coordinates made it relatively straightforward.

In the photo below, the moon’s limb is in the particular Orbiter frame and could serve as a way of sizing the corresponding picture of our globe. Yet, with the strips slightly off, it was never that easy. Frames showing no edge of the moon meant aligning by known coordinate points was the only way. I had to order each negative in several different sizes and would inevitably find the one that lined up with two or more known coordinate points on the photo. And when known points were only those by extension across the far side, it meant errors could start to add up.

With the correct, registered positive in hand, I pierced through the overlay at grid intersections into the Orbiter photo. (Notice the spots on the overlay. There was a lightly inked shoreline drawn on the one-meter globe and it appeared on all photos along with the grid.)

Transfered Grid

I used “ships curves” to connect the points. The gut- killer was that there was nothing I could use to check my work. I had to work across the entire Far Side hoping everything would meet up correctly. Fortunately it did.

Complete Lunar Frame 163 with Curves Marked

Naming Lunar Features: Riccioli Wins

Upper left a portion of Hevelius’ map, lower right, that of Riccioli’s, with Apollo 11’s landing site shown on each

After finishing the far side control, it was time to compile the names for the map. Lunar nomenclature dates to a face off between two men who, armed with their telescopes and pens, had applied naming schemes to the moon in the 1600’s: Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) and Giovanni Riccioli (1598-1671). Above, are closeups of an 18th century map showing portions of each version.

Using Hevelius, Apollo 11 would have landed in Pontus Euxinus, or the Black Sea, instead of Riccioli’s Sea of Tranquillity. Hevelius used earth names like Italia, Asia and Pontus Euxinus. One of Hevelius’ names was La-cus Cor-o-con-da-met’-is, a real mouth full, and representative of the many long names he applied.

One of Hevelius’ names remains. Montus Apenninus is curved along a light colored arc of mountains, an area visited by Apollo 15.

Pencil Name Compilation

Type card was used as reference. A type gauge was used to size the type that’s printed on the compilation sheet.

At the Geographic, we used fonts designed by Charles Riddiford dating from the first half of the 20th century. Name compilation was done in pencil on a translucent sheet of plastic called cronoflex. The names were written, at the desired size and style of the font – roman, italic, serif or sans serif. Then, using a clear type gauge in graduated point size, each name was measured and specified by font and size on a list. The list was submitted to the Phototype department where they set the type by hand on a compositor.

Naming Everything

No towns! (View larger) Left: crater names underlined in red have arrows extending to center of crater, right: names underlined in green have arrows extend to crater edge.

The name compilation presented a key problem. We had never had to name craters on the Earth. How should the names align with the crater? With the rim? with the center? For large craters the names could sit inside the crater and were easily understood. But for others, the name could either run up to the rim or into the center of the crater. For many, small craters arrows were required. Where should they point?

I created two samples, maybe more, using a part of Tibor’s relief and placed names using a couple of ideas. On each map above, 3 names are underlined having arrows. The left sample has arrows pointing into the crater center, the right sample points to the rim crest. Polling the people in the map department, the arrow to the rim was universally more clearly understood.

1968: Surveyor 7

On January 10th, 1968, the last Surveyor missions picked up another success, landing near the north rim of the moon’s most famous crater, Tycho. At top is an earth photo of the moon with a prominent Tycho and its rays emanating across the lunar landscape. At bottom left is Orbiter’s straight down view of the crater. At right is Surveyor 7’s photo taken from the crater’s edge. You can just see the near and far rims on the horizon of this photo. Surveyor 2 and 4 had failed but the program ended with 5, 6 and 7 as winners.

As with Orbiter 5, after Surveyor 1, 3, 5 and 6, it was decided to send Surveyor 7 to one of the moon’s scientific gems even though it was way out of Apollo’s paths.

Notes, Index and Editing

Dave was researching, writing, editing and coordinating everything. He was the mover and shaker.

Above is a tidbit of the set of notes that stretched across the bottom of the map showing the earth and moon to scale. Along an Apollo flight path, there were notes for each critical phase of the flight. Other notes held less drama than these. One note on the map titled “Physical Properties” included paragraphs on:

  1. Atmosphere
  2. Temperature
  3. Albedo
  4. Erosion
  5. The Center of Gravity
  6. Gravity
  7. Surface Color

Could NASA’S schedule be met?

The contract for the Lunar Lander was awarded to Grumman where they displayed this early model dating to 1962.

By 1968, NASA had resumed its intense drive to achieve the landing and, despite the fire that consumed Apollo 1 during a launch pad test, they still thought they might achieve their goal within Kennedy’s deadline. Grumman was having trouble meeting deadlines for, perhaps, the most complex component of the Apollo spacecraft — the lunar lander. Even Grumman had their doubts that they could make it.

But we started working full time toward finishing in time for an anticipated landing. In typical National Geographic fashion, all information had to be researched, checked, rechecked, sent out to authorities, revised and run through the cycle again.

Type Placement Continued

A crowded section of the map including some color type displayed Surveyor landings, prime Apollo landing sites and others.

This area of the map was about the most crowded of all. We decided not to crowd the map because crater rims and shadows couldn’t coexist with the type. After type stickup, we edited spellings and added a few names but often deleted them to keep the map clean. Some of the type is red which was placed on a separate plate.

On the right side of the map, just left of the number 12, there’s a red note saying “Proposed Apollo Landing Site 2”. This was where Apollo 11 actually landed. The primary site was the red bulls eye symbol at the right edge.

The map also contained elevations. But there was no sea level! Find the red number 9 toward the left side of the map. A little below it there’s a crater named “Mosting A”.

In the mid or early 1960’s, while there was a flurry of moon mapping by USGS and the Army Map Service, the floor of this crater was declared to have an elevation of “zero” relative to a theoretical lunar ellipsoid. The elevations you find on the map, such as 10,500 feet for the rim of Alphonsis, are all relative to the floor of Mosting A.

Type Stickup

Type was glued onto a cronoflex overlay registered to the name compilation. To start, a clear sheet of plastic came to us with the names we had ordered. A draftsperson then applied glue to the back of the plastic. After it had dried, she took an Xacto knife in her right hand (right handed), a brush in her left. She cut out a names and applied it to the cronoflex sheet. She used the Xacto to manipulate the type into position while applying the acetone with the brush.

Sometimes, she had to curve the type by making a cut between each letter leaving a bit of the plastic intact at the top or bottom of the name, depending on which way the type is curved, in order to hold the name together. It was a long and tedious process.

Moon Phases

To finish the Moon phases, Dave Moore used his pictures to divide the progression evenly. He drew a uniform series using pencil. Unlike the map, the drawing didn’t show features with a uniform light source. Instead he had to show how some features were washed out by high sun or had long shadows for low.

Then he made a name compilation to point out the most prominent features during each phase. For craters, these usually occur near the terminator. Seas, the low, lava-filled areas on the moon are dark and often stand out against the bright highlands.

On the left side above is the 3rd day after New Moon, when most of the Moon is lighted by earthshine, hence the dark, but not black, area. During New Moon, if you were standing on the Moon, you’d see a very bright Full Earth which, in turn, lights up the Near Side surface of the moon making some lunar features visible from Earth. These include the large crater, Grimaldi, which appears dark from its lava filled floor, and Aristarchus which appears relatively bright.

The Moon’s Disk

The Moon’s diameter stretches from Philadelphia to Las Vegas

My only contribution to the final, drafted version of the map was this drawing of the Moon’s disk on top of the U.S. Viewed from behind the moon, it can be superimposed on the United States for an idea of its size.

July 1969: Soviet N1 Disaster

The Soviet N1 rockets were designed to go to the Moon. Two N1’s can be seen on the pad at left.

In early July 1969, two N1 Moon rockets were poised on their launch pads at Tyura-Tam. The N1 was designed for the Soviet manned lunar missions. In the foreground is a booster with a payload for a lunar-orbiting mission. In the background is the IMI ground test mock-up of the N1 for rehearsing parallel launch operations.

After take-off the rocket collapsed back onto the pad (right), destroying the entire pad area in a massive explosion. Sergey Korolev was the master Soviet rocket scientist but he had died in 1966 at age 59 and the program suffered from his death.

Proof Time: The Border

Just as we were winding up all the parts of the map, Dave came up with another brilliant idea. He wanted to line the border of the map with names and words that were distinctly meaningful to the moon. He came up with a fabulous list, some of which you see above.

1968: Final Drafting

Final drafting plates: cronoflex, scribecotes, were then made into photo negative and positive printing plates; perhaps 40 or 50 plates in all.

Final drafting yielded a large of plates. The Geographic maps often had 40 or more plates for a map. For example, there wasn’t just one cyan plate. Perhaps a diagram would have one area with a fill of 10% cyan and another area for 30% each on a plate of its own . Below is a sample:

Fill Plates:

  • Cyan: a plate for each  percentage of cyan used, e.g. 40% cyan plate, 50% plate, 100% plate
  • Magenta: a plate for each  percentage of magenta used
  • Yellow: a plate for each  percentage of yellow used.
  • Black: a plate for each  percentage of black used.

4 half tones of:

  • Cyan
  • Magenta
  • Yellow
  • Black

Special colors (some colors aren’t mixed):

  • Blue-black – background of the map which also trapped the color notes
  • Olive – land forms on earth
  • Blue-gray – relief color (mixed with black)
  • More?

Line Plates:

  • Each color of line work gets a plate

Type Plates:

  • Map names,
  • White notes,
  • Yellow notes, etc.

Sept. 1968: Zond 5

1968 Proton-K Zond rocket rocket with Zond (7K-L1) circumlunar spacecraft (Baikonur)

In September, 1968, the Russian Zond / Soyuz successfully flew a mission with a Soyuz capsule that looped around the moon and returned successfully to earth. The capsule contained some animals, insects and plants, and was capable of carrying one astronaut. Unlike the N-1 rocket that exploded on the pad, the Zond didn’t have the power to provide for orbiting the Moon, only for a loop, there and back. Its success threatened to steal Apollo’s thunder if a cosmonaut were to loop around the Moon.

Oct. 1968: Press Time

NASA’s schedule placed the earliest possible landing at July of 1969 if every intervening mission met with success, so the Geographic decided to publish the map for the February, 1969 issue. We would have gone to press around early October, 1968 in order for the map to be inserted as the magazine’s came off the press.

Nov. 1968: Apollo 8 Announcement

Left to right: Commander Frank Borman, Lunar Module Pilot Bill Anders (with no lunar module to pilot), Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell. Mission announcement: Nov. 12, 1968. Launch date: Dec. 21, 1968

On November 12th 1968, out of nowhere, came an announcement by NASA that Apollo 8 would actually fly before Apollo 7. And they were going to the Moon in December, just a month away! NASA was worried about the Russians. Were they preparing a loop around the Moon as they had done Zond 5 but with an cosmonaut? NASA thought it was possible.

The Lunar Module was not yet ready and NASA was faced with a lull in its missions. The Apollo 8 mission could test the first manned Saturn 5 and why not go to the Moon? The mission had been proposed secretly to Jim McDivitt, the next astronaut in line to fly, but he had trained intensely on the Lunar Module and he preferred to wait for the flight that he and his crew had trained for. Next in line was Frank Borman who accepted the job. The announcement came just a month and a half before launch.

Nov. 1968: Zond 6

Launched November 10th, 1968 Reentry, November 17th.

Two days before Apollo 8’s announcement, Zond 6 was launched, a precursor to manned flight, with more test equipment and a biological package. As with Zond 5, it looped around the moon and returned to earth. Suddenly, the Russians were back in the race!

Dawn of an Era: Apollo 8

Apollo 8 was a lark. The mission was never planned to be part of NASA’s systematic quest for the Moon. In fact, the giant Saturn V itself had never carried astronauts, yet NASA decided to fly all the way to the Moon. The Lunar Lander wasn’t ready to fly and Grumman, was frantically trying to meet its long-delayed debut by early 1969.

So, NASA had a rocket, a crew and a Command module with no place to go. Why not go to the Moon? It would be a great test for NASA’s “all-up” testing philosophy. The dramatic success of Apollo 8 gave us the famous picture of an “earth rise”, above, taken by Bill Anders, Lunar Module Pilot just as Apollo 8 emerged from behind the Far Side of the Moon.

Feb. 1969: Map Received by Public

The February 1969 “Moon” edition of the National Geographic Magazine was on the press when Apollo 8 took off. We had our fingers crossed that nothing would go wrong. With the publication of the Moon map, it became the first complete map of the Moon. Editor’s note: 40 years have since elapsed.

Mistakes? We could only wait to hear.

The map was absolutely packed with information, both general and technical. But no mistake was ever found on the map, a tribute to Dave Cook above all.

Second Edition Printing

Side by side you can see the density of names that have been added around Tsiolkovsky.

Sometime soon after the publication of the first edition, we hired Jay Inge from the Geological Survey since the government’s moon mapping effort evaporated after the Apollo program. Jay was an expert in rendering astronomical relief terrain, including the Moon and Mars and would be able to help with our upcoming Mars map.

Sometime after the end of the Apollo missions in 1972, it was clear we needed to revise the Moon map for several reasons. Far Side names had been assigned and should now appear on the map. Some of the notes needed to include knowledge gained from the Apollo missions. For the new, 1976 edition, we had Jay redraw the relief and we incorporated a great deal of new information.

As a result, the map you buy from the Geographic today has Jay’s relief, new names and many other revisions. Since 1976, more and more changes have continued to occur.

Far Side of the Second Edition Map

The 1976 edition had printing on the back, or let’s call it the far side, that contained a complete index of names on the moon as well as a selection of the photos that came out of the moon-program era. I had the fun of researching all the names and, since most features were named for a person, I included a “known-for” note next to each.

Mistakes, Part 2

Unfortunately, they can creep in so easily.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s now a mistake on the newest edition of the map. The bottom-most diagram stretches across the bottom of the map and shows the Earth at the map’s left side and the Moon on the right. The distance between and the size of Earth and Moon are to scale.

Here’s the Moon (above right) that the Geographic has plugged in — a nifty little drawing of the Near Side. But there’s a problem. The entire diagram is a side view of the earth moon system. The Near Side of the Moon should be facing the earth, not the reader. The first edition just had a gray disk. On the 1976 edition I did a small drawing centered on 90° East so the Near Side faced the Earth. I guess they thought that was a mistake.

That’s it folks!

I hope you enjoyed, please leave comments via the form below.

You might also enjoy Nathaniel’s photo essay on Toni Mair — Terrain Artist Extraordinaire.

View zoomable map at National Geographic.

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5 Responses to “Race To The Moon with Richard Furno, Part 2 (Kelso)”

  1. […] is part 1. Skip to part 2. View zoomable map at National Geographic. My friend and cartography colleague Richard Furno […]

  2. Steve L says:

    fascinating article, thanks for sharing this information. I wish I’d been around during those exciting times.

  3. Henning says:

    Great article! Very interesting to read about some cartography before computers.

  4. Thank you for getting this out. I treasure my Feb. 1969 Nat. Geo. and the map. I was always curious about how you pulled it together back in those days, seemingly even before the NASA. I have used the map dozens of times to show kids how the Moon differs from the Moon we see thru the telescope.
    I will never forget having the map before me on the carpet between me and the TV, mapping the orbits and landing of Apollo-11, using a small model to land on your “Moon”.
    Now I have to find the 1976 edition- any ideas where to look?
    James M. Busby
    Technical advisor-Tom Hanks’s and HBO’s “From the Earth to the Moon”

  5. Dear sir,

    Would you be happy if I used a copy of the 1968: Zond 5 image?

    I intend to use it for a small image reference in an Introduction for a forthcoming hardback version of Yuri’s Day. This is a home published Graphic Novel about the events leading up to and after Yuri’s first manned spaced flight.
    If you wish to know more, please see: http://www.yuri-gagarin.com/about

    Please let me know if you would be happy for me to do this.

    Best wishes,