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Wanted: The date of a Skylab 4 photo of New Zealand

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The photo is SL4-142-4592 North Island, New Zealand 1973, and with  the exact date my diaries might tell me what I was doing around the time it was taken.

Downloadable images:  https://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/SearchPhotos/photo.pl?mission=SL4&roll=142&frame=4592

A lot of Googling over many years has not turned up the exact date, and I wonder if such things just weren't recorded during the Skylab missions. Even a web page I found currently eludes me, but here's its information:

NASA Photograph SL4-142-4592 North Island, New Zealand 1973
Photo center point: 39.0° S, 176.0° E

--- Quote ---Identification
Mission: SL4 Roll: 142 Frame: 4592 Mission ID on the Film or image: SL4
Country or Geographic Name: NEW ZEALAND
Center Point: Latitude: -39.0 Longitude: 176.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Stereo: No (Yes indicates there is an adjacent picture of the same area)

Camera Tilt: High Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 100mm
Camera: Hasselblad
Film: SO368: Kodak Ektachrome MS, equivalent to 2448 Kodak Aerochrome, ASA64, thin base, fine grain

Film Exposure: Normal
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 35 (26-50)

Nadir Point Latitude: , Longitude: (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction:
Sun Azimuth: (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: nautical miles (0 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number:

SL4-142-4592 North Island, New Zealand 1973
Smaller but more populous North Island is separated from South Island (southwest part of photograph) by Cook Strait in this high-oblique, south-looking photograph. North Island consists of hilly, forested land with several disconnected ranges separated by small plains and basins. Occupying an unstable section of the Earth's crust along the "Pacific Rim of Fire" where mountain building and other crustal disturbances occur, North Island has a line of active volcanoes and a multitude of geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and geothermal steam vents across the central and western island. The northern portion of the island, where the major city of Auckland is located, is characterized by a more gentle terrain with alternating plains and coastal beaches. The island has an abundance of excellent harbors. North Island contains most of New Zealand's dairy and wine industries, along with oil, iron, and coal processing. The island, home of New Zealand's world-famous kiwi bird, has no land snakes of any kind.

--- End quote ---

Brief details of the mission:

Skylab 4

16 November 1973–8 February 1974

Crew: Gerald P. Carr, William R. Pogue, Edward G. Gibson

Clocking in at 84 days, 1 hour, 15 minutes, and 31 seconds, Skylab 4 remains the longest U.S. spaceflight to date. To help keep the crew in shape, a treadmill was added to the on-board bicycle-like ergometer. As a result of the exercise, the Skylab 4 crew was in better physical condition upon their return to Earth than previous Skylab crews, even though an excessive work pace had caused some tension during the flight.  Comet Kohoutek was among the special targets observed by the Skylab 4 crew, as were a solar eclipse and solar flares. The astronauts conducted four spacewalks, including one on Christmas Day to view Kohoutek, and set records for time spent on experiments in every discipline from medical investigations to materials science.

I have a copy of "Skylab Explores the Earth"


and have gone through looking for other images from that magazine.

Page 340 has SL4-142-4567, which is stated as taken on January 24th 1974, so assuming a sequential numbering system, 4592 should have been taken after that. There's also SL4-142-4490 (page 375), which also has that date, SL4-142-4577 (page 377) is given as January 28th and SL4-142-4467 (page 402) is January 23rd.

That all seems to suggest sequential numbering, and that you image is likely to have been taken on or after January 28th 1974, rather than Novmber 1973 - I suspect they've just given it the mission start date. That narrows down the window quite a bit!

I have access to NIMBUS and ESSA images for that period - when I get chance I'll have a look. There's not much weather to go on, but there might be something :)

Ah, the Good Old Days. I obviously had a substantial entertainment budget (below) during the dates of Skylab 4. I was underworked, overpaid and bored in a cushy job so got stuck into photography as an amateur and started my own business in 1978.

Wed 21 Nov 1973     LP               Dr Hook "Sloppy Seconds"
Wed 21 Nov 1973     LP               Jefferson Airplane "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland"
Sun 2 Dec 1973        Movie          "Dirty Harry"
Sun 2 Dec 1973        Movie          "Klute"
Fri 7 Dec 1973         LP                Art Garfunkel "Angel Clare"
Fri 7 Dec 1973         LP                Rick Wakeman "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"
Fri 7 Dec 1973         LP                The New Seekers
Fri 7 Dec 1973         LP                Three Dog Night "Cyan"
Fri 7 Dec 1973         Photography 300mm lens
Tue 11 Dec 1973      Photography 28mm lens
Fri 14 Dec 1973       LP                David Bowie "Pin Ups"
Fri 14 Dec 1973       LP                Pink Floyd "The Dark Side of the Moon" **
Tue 18 Dec 1973      Movie           "Trinity is STILL My Name!"
Sat 22 Dec 1973      Movie           "Let the Good Times Roll"
Mon 24 Dec 1973     Trip             Feilding
Thu 27 Dec 1973      Trip              Wanganui
Fri 28 Dec 1973        Movie          "Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid"
Sat 29 Dec 1973      Trip              New Plymouth
Wed 2 Jan 1974       Trip              Returned to Wellington
Fri 4 Jan 1974          Movie           "Live and Let Die"
Fri 18 Jan 1974        LP                Rock 'n' Roll Compilation
Thu 31 Jan 1974      LP                "Let the Good Times Roll"
Thu 31 Jan 1974      LP                Buddy Holly "A Rock and Roll Collection"
Thu 31 Jan 1974      Movie           "Jesus Christ Superstar"
Wed 20 Feb 1974     Salary            $5416    $103.87 pw

** So many people recommended "The Dark Side of the Moon" that I relented and bought it, but after listening to it sober, straight, alcoholed, and weeded (all on different occasions), and deciding it was infantile and short on talent, I gave it to someone who did like it.


--- Quote from: onebigmonkey on December 21, 2021, 12:01:56 PM ---That all seems to suggest sequential numbering, and that you image is likely to have been taken on or after January 28th 1974, rather than Novmber 1973 - I suspect they've just given it the mission start date. That narrows down the window quite a bit!
--- End quote ---

Many thanks, Onebigmonkey. I felt sure some other ApolloHoax member would be able to help -- but not that quickly. I go along with the mission start date, and if the lunar missions are something to go by, it was only the film-roll numbers that got mixed, not the frame numbers on the roll.

For years I thought that because of the fiducials it might have been taken during Apollo 9 (few of the lunar missions came close enough to New Zealand in daylight), but the smoke from about 12 rural fires fooled me into thinking it might have been taken in autumn or winter. However, Skylab 4 says it had to be taken during our summer. February is always our hottest month.

I might be sitting outside in the sun, having my lunch and looking toward Skylab 4, but hidden behind one pixel. The latter is the case in this photo, where I'm just below the highest patch of west coast forest at 2 o'clock from the ball on the mast. :-) http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/165304main_image_feature_719_ys_full.jpg

Looking at the images from February, I'm inclined to go with the end of January - north Island is much more clouded over after then.

The three images below are (left to right) the 28th, 29th and 30th:

for my money the 29th sems the most likely, given the solid band of cloud crossing south island :)


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