Armstrong’s giant leap in HD

How a Danish-based photographer has redefined the 20th century’s most memorable moment

When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969, he travelled somewhere no man had been before, somewhere men had hardly dared to dream about visiting. But thanks to Swedish photographer Hans Nyberg, who has lived and worked in Denmark since the 1960s, we can all now visit the moon with Armstrong – in a way. The panorama Nyberg created in 2004 stitches together high-resolution versions of photographs that Armstrong took himself at the lunar module landing site in 1969. It offers viewers a 360-degree view of the moon as Armstrong himself saw it, including perhaps the most powerful image: Armstrong’s shadow creening towards fellow astronaut Edwin E ‘Buzz’ Aldrin Jr before an infinite darkness lurking in the background. Armstrong’s death on August 25 has once again created a buzz about Nyberg’s eight-year-old tribute to the Apollo 11 commander and his crew. Nyberg improved upon similar panoramas with higher resolution images, also adding Armstrong’s voice and his legendary remark: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Despite being able to land on the moon, such photographic technology did not exist in Armstrong’s time – the camera he used on the moon lacked even a viewfinder. At a moment in time when it is possible to carry a high-definition video recorder in your pocket, Nyberg’s panorama offers a reminder inherent in Armstrong’s moonwalk: what before seemed impossible is always only a series of small steps away, until finally one step becomes one giant leap. Armstrong saw a world the vast majority of us will never see, but he could not possibly imagine the future of the one he leaves behind.