Apollo 11 navigation chart sells for $218k
Described by astronaut Buzz Aldrin as, 'The single most critical navigational device we used while on the Moon,' this was the star of Bonham's NY space auction
The navigational chart used by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to determine their exact position on the lunar surface just after their historic lunar landing was one of the major sales at Bonham's Space Sale, in New York, on July 16.
It sold for an incredible $218,000, including buyer's premium.
One of the few flight devices returned from the lunar surface to be available on the market, the chart was a major auction highlight in a great year for space memorabilia, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the momentous Apollo XI moon landing.
Amazingly, the chart still contains traces of moon dust. It was used by Armstrong and Aldrin some 20 hours after they landed on the moon to update the Eagle module's navigational equipment, just prior to their lunar lift-off.
The historic piece was formerly displayed at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
The chart is signed by Buzz Aldrin, and its sale also included a typed and signed letter from the second man on the moon.
"Accompanying this letter is the actual star chart that Neil Armstrong and I used to determine our precise location just after we made history's first lunar landing on July 20, 1969," writes Aldrin. "It is a circular device that has a movable translucent overlay with six over lapping circles."
"The stars and constellations are projected onto a black background above and below lines defined as the ecliptic and the lunar equator. The Sun, Earth, Venus, and other planets are marked as to their relative positions along the ecliptic plane.
"This star chart was the single most critical navigational device we used while on the Moon."
Not only does the navigational chart and its accompanying letter give a fascinating insight into the risks encountered by the brave Apollo 11 crew, the chart was also crucial in allowing Neil Armstrong to become the first man to set foot upon the Moon.
"Our Lunar Module's gyroscopic guidance equipment lost precision over time. It was imperative to re-align this equipment just after landing in case of an emergency lift-off or our inability to make such an adjustment for the scheduled lift-off some 22 hours [later]," writes Aldrin.
Circular areas on chart are based on readings recorded by the astronaut's Alignment Optical Telescope (AOT), used to track the stars in the Moon's skies above.
"Completion of these tasks enabled us to carry out our lunar timeline and allowed Neil Armstrong to become the first human to set foot upon the Moon," writes Aldrin.
Especially fascinating to collectors are the areas of the chart where what is most likely lunar dust became embedded during its use on the Moon's surface.
According to Aldrin, "On the back of the star chart, there is a square velcro patch. It has an overall tint of gray with darker grayish material embedded within. Those gray areas are most likely lunar dust that came off our space suits or from various equipment such as the sample return container."
Printed near the 270 degree point of the chart is an inscription that reads, "LM-TD+2 STAR CHART (A), LAUNCH JULY 16, 20 JULY 20:17:11 GMT."
TD was short for Touchdown with +2 meaning that the chart had its highest accuracy within 2 hours of landing. Touchdown was to be 20:17:11 Greenwich Mean Time on July 20, assuming a July 16 earth launch.
The Apollo XI eventually landed back on Earth at 4:17 pm Eastern Daylight Time (20:17 GMT), within a minute of the planned time.
Aldrin's signature on the chart reads: "This star chart was used by Neil Armstrong and myself while on the lunar surface during July 20 - 21, 1969. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot."
The massive success of the Bonham's auction shows the continued global interest in the Apollo 11 mission around the 40th Anniversary.
If you are interested in Moon Landing memorabilia we recommend you get involved before prices go stratospheric on the 50th Anniversary.
To whet your appetite: we have the finest piece of Apollo 11 memorabilia available in stock - click here for further information.