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Houston Matters

Photography Book Documents Houston’s Many Connections To Space

Photographer Ray Viator discusses his book, Houston: Space City USA.

The Moon Over Downtown
The moon over downtown Houston.

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Houston: Space City USAA national marketing campaign in the 1980s proclaimed with pride: "Houston: First Word From the Moon."

That's a reference to Neil Armstrong's communication from Apollo 11 to Mission Control at NASA's Johnson's Space Center on July 20, 1969: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." (Technically, "contact" was the first word said from the moon – along with a handful of other technical exchanges that occurred before that famous line).

But, when photographer Ray Viator heard that marketing tagline, he challenged himself to try and take a good shot of the moon over our city.

And that began a several-decade obsession with getting shots of the lunar surface juxtaposed with different Houston landmarks, like the moon hovering just beyond the pointing finger of the Sam Houston statue in Hermann Park, or levitating just above the roof of the Astrodome, or perched atop the star of the San Jacinto Monument, to name a few.

Sam Houston Statue and the Moon
The moon photographed with the Sam Houston Statue in Hermann Park.

Now, Viator has combined many of those photos he's taken over the years with other shots capturing Houston's connection to the space industry into a book called Houston: Space City USA.

In the audio above, he tells guest host Ernie Manouse about how he became fascinated with photographing the moon, why getting a good shot of it is so challenging, and about why he wanted to document our city's many connections with space.

  • The moon pictured with an astronaut statue atop a McDonald's near the Johnson Space Center. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
    The moon pictured with an astronaut statue atop a McDonald's near the Johnson Space Center. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
  • A longhorn steer photographed with the moon by Houston photographer Ray Viator. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
    A longhorn steer photographed with the moon by Houston photographer Ray Viator. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
  • The moon over downtown Houston. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
    The moon over downtown Houston. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
  • The moon photographed with the Sam Houston Statue in Hermann Park. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
    The moon photographed with the Sam Houston Statue in Hermann Park. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
  • The full moon over a Rice football game. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
    The full moon over a Rice football game. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
  • Astronaut artwork in the elevator of the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
    Astronaut artwork in the elevator of the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
  • A robot at the annual Space Com conference. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)
    A robot at the annual Space Com conference. (Photo Credit: Ray Viator)

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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