Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How DID a moon rock get into a window at the Washington National Cathedral?

It is fitting that Armstrong's public memorial service tomorrow will be at the Washington National Cathedral.  The cathedral has a rather special stained glass window.  As identified in the below article, a moon rock was given to the church to incorportae into the "space window".

The moon rock is in the center of the red swirl (solar sphere) and the thin white line circling one of the spheres symbolizes a manned spaceship exploring the universe.  How did a moon rock find its way into a cathedral that construction began just after Kitty Hawk?  The south windows had been designed to represent the gifts that people use to serve God. This particular opening was indeed designated for the “scientists and technicians” window.

The window was designed by Rodney Winfield of St. Louis (see below for video interview).  He created the design "to symbolize the macrocosm and microcosm of space. Radiations of light emanate from numerous solar spheres. Shining through deep colors are white dots symbolizing stars. The thin white trajectory encircling a sphere depicts a manned space ship. Winfield wanted to show the minuteness of humanity in God’s universe. Inspiration for the window’s design and color palette came from photographs taken during the Apollo 11 mission."  The window was donated to the Cathedral by the NASA Director at the time of the Apollo 11 flight.  Once it was received, the dean of the cathedral had the idea of embedding a fabulous artifact in the newly donated window - the window was to depict Creation.  After two years and a little help from the then NASA Director, a letter from President Nixon announced the gift (full article).

 The Apollo 11 sample that was presented at the dedication service was not put into the window until several years later because they were concerned something of so much value would be too easy to get to with scaffolding and the current construction.  The article below identifies when the moon rock was installed in the window.

Sign up here to get the downloadable program for the service, the video of the space window dedication, and a high res image of the window.

Interview with Rodney Winfield here with interesting details about how he got involved with the cathedral, designing 13 different versions, and acquiring the moon rock.

Godspeed, Neil!  #WinkAtTheMoon

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