Great Moon Landing Hoax
this really happen? Were the moon landings really filmed
in an earthbound studio? (NASA/Lee Krystek)
is certainly hoaxing us here, the question is whether it is
NASA or the people that claim man never went to the moon...
On July 20, 1969, astronaut
Neil Armstrong set his boot on the surface of the lunar landscape.
In that act he completed one of mankind's greatest achievements:
Landing a man on the moon.
Or did he? Some skeptics
have suggested that those trips the Apollo spacecraft made to
our nearest celestial neighbor may never have happened. According
to these skeptics it was all an elaborate deception designed
to make the world believe that the United States had beat the
USSR to the moon after NASA figured out that they didn't have
the technology to do it for real.
Bill Kaysing, author of
We Never Went to the Moon, is perhaps the most well-known
skeptic of the manned moon landings. Kaysing was also a heavy
contributor to a television special entitled Conspiracy Theory:
Did We Land on the Moon? The program, hosted by Mitch Pileggi,
first appeared on the Fox network in 2001 and has been repeated
several times since then.
The program raised a number
of points that on first glance seem to make NASA's moon landing
suspicious. On close scientific examination, however, most of
these claims seem to fade like moonshine in the morning sun.
Stars in Sky
Perhaps the first point
raised, or at least the one most memorable, is the stars. Or
more precisely, the lack of them. People who are skeptical of
the moon landing point out that even though the sky in all the
moon pictures is black, as it should be if there is no atmosphere
on the moon (and there isn't), no stars can be seen. This is
taken as an indication that the pictures were faked and NASA
forgot to paint stars on the studio backdrop.
The truth is that if you
were to see stars in the sky in those moon pictures it would
be a definite indication that they were faked. Why? Well,
all the landings were done during daylight hours on the moon.
That means that even though the sky was black, the sun was up.
The lunar surface is mostly a light gray and reflects light
extremely well. The light levels during the landings were probably
similar to those in a western desert in the morning, bright
enough to warrant sunglasses, or in the case of the astronauts,
sunvisors on their spacesuits.
For this reason the NASA
cameras had to be stopped down (this mean a minimal amount of
light was allowed to enter the camera) and the exposure times
shortened to allow only enough light onto the film to properly
illuminate the surface. The stars were much too faint to show
up on these pictures. Expecting them to show up would be similar
to going out into that western desert at midmorning, setting
the camera properly to take pictures under those conditions,
coming back after nightfall to take pictures of the stars without
readjusting the exposure on the camera and then expecting to
get something. Stars are hard enough to photograph under any
conditions, let alone with an exposure setting appropriate for
Ironically, many of the
conceptual drawings of the moon landing done by NASA artists
at the time show stars appearing in the lunar sky. It seems
unlikely NASA would have forgotten to paint them on the backdrop
if they were trying to fake it.
Even modern NASA pictures
of the space shuttle or earth from orbit do not usually show
stars. This is for the same reason: When in direct sunlight
the earth and and shuttle are very bright and the cameras must
be stopped down too low to capture starlight.
Moonlanding skeptics point
out that if the photographs the astronauts supposedly took on
the moon were actually taken there, the shadows should be absolutely
black. The sun is the only source of light and there is no atmosphere
to scatter the light around. In the images, though, the shadows
are often well lit. Skeptics use the argument that this was
because the shots were filmed in a studio that had an atmosphere.
There is a basic misconception
with this thinking, however. In a single light situation, shadows
are filled in not just from the light rays being scattered by
air. The light in the shadows also comes from being bounced
off other objects. You can see this effect from a simple home
experiment. Get two pieces of construction paper, one black
and one white, then go into a dark room and light a single lamp.
Place an object in front of you to create a shadowed area. Now
bring the black construction paper near the shadow on a 45-degree
angle partly facing the light, partly facing the shadow. Because
the black paper is absorbing the light, the shadow does not
change. Now slide the white construction paper in front of the
black. The shadow should grow lighter from the light reflecting
off the white paper.
The same effect is present
on the moon. The light bounces off the surface of the moon as
well as the astronauts spacesuits and other equipment around
the lander. Because the moon's surface is a light gray, and
very reflective, the shadows can be lit very brightly.
Another argument often used
to disprove the authenticity of the Apollo photographs involves
the direction of the shadows. According to skeptics, the shadows
in the NASA pictures appear to diverge. If the sun is the single
bright light in the pictures, then the shadows should be parallel.
This, according to NASA's critics, shows that the single light
source was much closer to the astronauts than the sun, or there
were multiple lights involved.
Alan Shepard plants an American flag on the moon. Notice
the wrinkles in the flag and the direction of the shadows
on the ground. (NASA)
Clearly there were no multiple
lights involved as there are no multiple shadows in the pictures.
Whether the shadows appear to diverge, instead of running parallel
is dependent on the camera lens used in taking the photographs.
A slightly wide-angle camera, as was used on the moonwalk, can
make parallel lines appear to diverge. Even so, some photographs
(like the one to the right of Alan Shepard planting the flag)
do not show any divergence at all, but the parallel shadows
converge on the photo's vanishing point, just like they should.
While the American flag
was being put up on the moon it appears to wave. Skeptics argue
that this was caused by a breeze on the set where the hoax was
filmed because a flag cannot wave in a vacuum. This is wrong
thinking, however. The flag waves because the astronauts were
wiggling the flagpole back and forth trying to get it to stick
in the lunar soil. Given that kind of motion, any cloth would
wave whether it is in a vacuum or not.
Later on, still pictures
show the flag apparently waving even after the astronauts have
moved away from it. A glance at the moving video reveals that
the flag is not waving. It simply had a ripple in it
from not being fully extended across its length as it hung from
its top supporting pole much like a gathered curtain. This was
done accidentally on Apollo 11, but the astronauts loved this
effect so much that they did it on every subsequent moonlanding.
The van Allen belts are
a region in space where Earth's magnetic field has trapped particles
from the solar wind. Skeptics of the moon landing argue that
an astronaut would get a lethal dose of radiation if he were
to pass through the belts on the way to the moon.
While continued exposure
to the concentration of radiation found in the belts might well
be fatal, the space capsule the astronauts were traveling in
was going very fast and passed through the belts in a few hours.
The metal hull of the capsule also gave the astronauts some
protection from the radiation as well. While there was a certain
risk in passing through the belts, as there is in every venture
into space, the astronauts exposure from the van Allen belts
was minimal: about 2 rem which is the equivalent of a 100 chest
Dust and Feathers
There are any number of
points skeptics of the moon landing can bring up that don't
"look right" to them, but all have simple scientific
explanations when examined closely. Let's try doing the opposite:
Look at some things seen on the video or in the pictures that
would indicate that these things really happened on the
Phil Plait of the Bad Astronomy
site points outs that video footage taken of some of the moon
rovers shows dust being thrown up by the wheels as it rolls
across the lunar surface. The dust rises and falls in nearly
a perfect parabolic arc. This can only happen in a vacuum. Dust
thrown up in earth's atmosphere would float and swirl around
as it was carried by eddies in the air. Wherever the rover was
at the time the video was taken, it was certainly in a location
that had no air. Skeptics might argue that NASA took the trouble
to build a sealed set and pump the air out, but this would be
a tremendously difficult undertaking. It would also contradict
evidence of the "waving" flag, as described above.
Astronaut Dave Scott also
did a quick physics lesson in front of the video camera during
Apollo 15 that showed he was on the moon. He dropped a hammer
and a feather and watched them fall to the ground. On Earth
the feather's high wind resistance and low weight would have
caused it to slowly drift slowly down. On the moon, however,
the feather fell just as quickly as the hammer. Both dropped
to the ground at exactly the same rate one would expect to see
if the objects were being pulled to the ground by the moon's
one-sixth Earth gravity.
Conspiracy of Numbers
Even without the above evidence,
the claim that the Apollo mission to the moon was fabricated
by NASA makes little sense. For a conspiracy of silence to be
effective, those involved must be very few in number. Every
additional person added to the conspiracy raises the chances
that somebody will, accidentally or on purpose, "spill
Aldrin walking on the moon in 1969. Should there be stars
in the sky? (NASA)
In the case of the Apollo
program hundreds of thousands of people were involved. Not only
NASA employees, but also the companies who were contractors
of NASA for the project. Even if you argue that most of the
contractors and much of NASA staff did not have to be in on
the hoax, we are left with thousands of people who had direct
knowledge of the events. Starting with the NASA employees that
saw the astronauts climb into the rocket to the hundreds of
sailors on the recovery ship that saw them emerge out of the
space capsule when the trip was over.
There are also hundreds
of scientists that analyzed the rocks returned from the moon
and had no doubt that they were authentic. The moon rocks brought
back by the Apollo missions are not like anything else on Earth.
They show the effect of billions of years exposure to vacuum,
no moisture, and high energy cosmic rays. They are also pitted
with tiny meteoroids. None show the burned effect typical of
meteorites that have landed here on Earth. Could they have been
faked? No. As one geologist put it, "It would be easier to just
go to the Moon and get one."
are the Hoaxers?
The producers of Conspiracy
Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? are undoubtably intelligent
people who had the opportunity to research their subject thoroughly
before filming their documentary, yet they seemed to have completely
missed many of the simple explanations for the questions they
raise. It makes one wonder: Who are the real hoaxers in this
TV and the Apollo Moon Hoax by Phil Plait, http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html,
on the FOX Moonlanding Hoax special by
Jim Scotti, Planetary Scientist, University of Arizona,
Great Moon Hoax by
Dr. Tony Phillips,
Lee Krystek 2003. All Rights Reserved.