Image via Project Apollo Archive (public domain)
Groundbreaking discoveries are made every day, but over half a century on, the world is still actively talking about humankind’s first steps on the moon. And if you thought you’ve already seen all there is to see from the Apollo 11 landing, have you reveled in it in 360 degrees yet? No? We thought so.
Visual effects artist Michael Ranger, known as u/rg123 on Reddit, chose an unusual way to “unwrap” a new view of the pivotal moment: through the lens helmet of Buzz Aldrin. Using the highest-resolution version available of a photo that Neil Armstrong had taken of Aldrin on the moon on July 16, 1969, the artist zoomed right into the latter’s visor—“essentially a mirror ball”—and turned its reflection into a panoramic 360-degree picture.
And there is Armstrong, holding his Hasselblad camera and snapping a shot of his crewmate, and the American flag planted on the surface. The sun casts a long shadow of Aldrin, while Earth shyly peers far from the distance.
Ranger had created a similar image in the past, but it was of a lower-quality scan and he had edited it through his iPhone. This time around, he sharpened the picture and enhanced its colors through Photoshop, “which led to better results.”
The end result is a 2D image that you can virtually “walk around” in through a free 360-degree viewer like Google Street View or PhotoSphere for iOS. The full-res edit can be downloaded here to be experienced in these viewers.
This point of view has left social media users astounded, if not a little spooked. “It’s kind of eerie… It’s literally people 52 years in the future using modern technology to catch a new perspective of the past,” one user commented. “What kind of fancy ways will people be looking at our present 52 years from now?”
The artist has also recorded a video from the image, which you can check out below.
For comparison, a closeup shot of the reflection in Aldrin’s helmet. Image via Project Apollo Archive (public domain)