John Glenn – A sunset in space

A couple of months back I got into learning what I could about space, astronauts and the engineering involved. One of the books I read that gave a great insight was John Glenn’s book “A Memoir” that dealt largely with his  everyday life as he worked on his space missions.

The part that stood out best for me though were the free flowing prose about going through the earth orbits: the sights, the sounds, the weird lights out the window, how the spacecraft vibrated.

His words on seeing the sun set for the first time:

“This was something I had been looking forward to, a sunset in space….Wonderful as man-made art may be, it cannot compare in my mind to sunsets and sunrises, God’s master-pieces. Here on Earth we see the beautiful reds, oranges and yellows with a luminous quality no film can capture. What would it be like here in space?

It was even more spectacular than I had imagined, and different in that the sunlight coming through the prism of Earth’s atmosphere seemed to break out the whole spectrum, not just the colors at the red end but the greens, blues, indigos, and violets at the other. It made spectacular an understatement for the few seconds’ view. From my orbiting front porch, the setting sun that would have lingered during a long earthly twilight sank eighteen times as fast. The sun was fully round and as white as a brilliant arc light, and then it swiftly disappeared and seemed to melt into a long thin line of rainbow-brilliant radiance along the curve of the horizon”.

RIP John Glenn


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