The Hoer

Jim Irwin leans slightly forward and starts digging a trench with a small scoop

Painting Completed 1984
36 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

Jim Irwin is hard at work digging a trench using the small scoop attached to the extension handle. It's hard work because the extension handle is difficult to grip with the pressurized suit gloves and moving the hoe in a repeatable straight line is almost impossible. The particular trench supported near vertical sides and, when Jim had dug down about 14 inches, he encountered a hard layer he could not penetrate with the scoop.

The thin metal tripod with the vertical metal rod is a gnomon. The rod is free to move with the pull of gravity, so it remains vertical even on a sloping surface. It also casts a useful shadow. We always placed the gnomon in the field-of-view when we took photos of rock samples of trenches or other interesting lunar features. After we returned to Earth, the Geologists used the photographs to determine the exact orientation of a rock or the size and orientation of a trench.

Most of our time on the Moon was not spent operating fancy, high-technology equipment. Rather, we picked up rocks, set up experiments, and dug ditches. Not very glamorous or romantic, but necessary in the search for the origin and history of the Moon.