Carr and Gibson signatures will be added at no chargeSkylab III (SL-4): "Sunrise" Photo Signed by and Directly from the Personal Collection of Mission Pilot William Pogue. This is magnificent! A stunning color giclée print by Karl Ronstrom on heavy photographic canvas, 24" x 52", of a sunrise taken from the window of Skylab, boldly and hugely signed in gold ink: "Bill Pogue/ Pilot Skylab" against the dark background. Because our auction deadline did not allow time to add the signatures of the other crewmembers Jerry Carr and Ed Gibson, Colonel Pogue has offered to obtain the additional crew signatures for the winning bidder at no additional cost, if so desired. Included with the canvas is a color snapshot of Pogue holding this photo as well as a typescript of the story of how his daughter inspired him to take the original photo (the full text is available on our website). The image is 48" x 20" and there is a 2" wrap all around for stretcher-mounting or matting and framing. Stored rolled. Pristine.
Because I would be in space for twelve weeks I dropped by the office that handled government life insurance payments to pre-pay my quarterly payment, which would come due while I was in space. The lady in charge told me she would take care of it and I could pay up after the mission was over. I thanked her and the moment I walked through the door on the way out, she immediately forgot the entire conversation. That was the last time I ever trusted a bureaucrat's word!
Skylab was the first manned space mission to provide "phone calls" between the astronauts in space and their families on the ground. I was on the third Skylab mission that lasted 84 days and. Jerry Carr, Ed Gibson and I on-board took turns, each talking to our families every third day. It was really beneficial. One day my wife said, "You got an interesting letter from an office at "Johnson" (Space Center)." I asked, "What do they want?" She said, "They say that they're cancelling your government employee's life insurance policy!" I said, "They must know something I don't know." We got it solved. My wife went by the insurance office and paid my insurance up to date.
My daughter, Layna, was home on Christmas break (from U. of Texas) in 1973 so she took one of my calls (actually set up by a communication technician in Houston "Mission Control"). The COMTECHs had installed a "Squawk Box" in the living room of my house before the mission started, which my wife, Nita and Layna were using to communicate with me. I'm pretty sure Nita wanted the Squawk Box in the living room (and not the bedroom) so as not to cause sleep interruption during the night. When "COMM" or communication "lock-up" occurs it makes a loud squeaking noise (called the "Quindar"). As we talked, Layna asked me what I could see on the Earth below. I said, "Not much. Its dark." Then I could detect the first brightening on the horizon and told her a sunrise was about to happen and I would describe it to her.
Because of our rapid movement eastward (5 miles per second), a sunrise (or sunset) occurs rapidly and it was a challenge for me to describe it properly. (There are approximately 16 sunrises and sunsets in 24 hours.) Layna prompted, "Dad, take some pictures of it! That would be a lot better than a verbal description." A week or so later I was scheduled to take some pictures of a comet, Kohoutek, which was near the sun on its path through the solar system. As a bonus stroke of good luck, that would give me the opportunity to take some shots of a sunrise with a good lens with high-resolution capability (used for the comet photography).
As I took the pictures of the comet from the Apollo Command Module I held the camera-telephoto lens gently but firmly against the spacecraft window as I snapped the shutter, to prevent the camera from wiggling or jiggling. It worked and the pictures were relatively free of "image smear," which occurs with the slightest movement when pressing the camera shutter (in the zero-g of space.)
I got ten shots of the sunrise in rapid sequence. I had to wait 'til we were back on terra firma (about six weeks) to see the results but the ninth frame was spectacular, showing the "golden bloom" that blossoms (outward from the Sun to the left and right along the horizon) just as the sun's disk pokes above the horizon. Dick Underwood, a NASA photographic specialist, really liked the shots but I didn't realize how good they were until years later when I had some enlargements made. The telephoto lens had captured a great shot of the sunrise and, after it had been scanned into digital format it produced some outstanding crisp and clear images.
Just after I moved to Cocoa Beach in the summer of 2012 I met Karl Ronstrom, a professional photographer who has covered launches for the Kennedy Space Center for decades and has developed a highly successful business, catering to NASA, space contractors, the general public and astronauts who need professional advice in making the most of their pictorial assets autographed by the astronauts.
Karl is well known to several generations of astronauts, from the Apollo era right through the lengthy Shuttle program, which lasted three decades. It was Karl who encouraged me to exploit my sunrise pictures and helped by introducing me to an innovation that included what I would characterize as jumbo size space photographs on canvas. The canvas provides a sharp focus of features while adding a warm texture depth to the rich tones of natural colors exhibited in the Sun.
I gave Layna a small color print of the shot and later sent her an enlargement on canvas. She was "right on" as was the Chinese philosopher who said, "One picture is worth a thousand words!"
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