Charity drive to feed the empty heads of the Nasa/moon conspiracy theorists

You-know-what is on FOX right now, and it’s been quite a chuckle so far. I haven’t seen anything new, aside from the same old trash that’s been circulating via email for years.

In case you haven’t seen the conspiracy theories yourself, Philip Plait’s Bad Astronomy site has them all linked at the bottom of this page.

So here’s our chance to come up with some ideas that will satisfy the conspiracy theorists. What can we do, more than 30 years later, to prove to them that the moon landing actually took place? Has the Hubble telescope recovered from its vision problems enough to focus on the moon and perhaps pick up images of the leftover lunar lander hardware? Clearly, going to the moon now would not satisfy them since that would only prove that we can now do this, not that we did it.

I doubt that we have any dopers who subdcribe to the conspiracy theory, but if we do, maybe they would be kind enough to stop by & let us know how we can help bring them to their senses.

You believe that the Hubble Telescope really exists?:smiley:

well, i watched it till the end, at which point the narrator said that no current telescopes are capable of picking up objects as small as the lunar landing equipment. yet.
however, they mentioned that a japanese orbiter set for launch in a couple years will be able to do so.

You don’t need a telescope - a plain ole’ laser will do. The Apollo missions left behind a number of reflectors that can be used to accurately measure the distance from the Earth to the moon. Look up the location of one of the ALSEP experiments, aim your laser at it, and see if you can get a bounce back. Lots of amateurs have done it.

And of course, while the landings were taking place lots of people picked up the broadcasts from the moon, including the Russians and probably a number of amateur radio enthusiasts. By using a highly directional antenna, you could pinpoint the moon as the source of the broadcasts. There would have been other ways to identify the ‘signature’ as being from the moon - doppler shift of the signal as the moon orbits would be one good way, I’d think.

Then of course there is Occam’s razor - faking the the moon landing would have cost more than actually going there, considering the thousands of images and movies that would have to have been created. And the computer rendering technology didn’t exist at the time, which means sets, models, landscapes, etc.

Then there’s the matter of trying to fake the 1/6 gravity as seen in the movies. This is extremely difficult. More difficult than faking zero G.

I just followed Attrayant’s link to a page called “Luna Ticks,” and I gotta say I’m a bit disappointed. Some of the “scientific refutations” presented are actually really poor.
For example, the author’s third debunking, concerning the alleged backlighting of the astronauts’ suits and the LEM, when the position of the sun should have cast them in shadow. He/she says:

"…there is not one source of light on the Moon – there are several.
There is the point source (the Sun) – and there is Earthshine. Earth is very bright – actually five times brighter than the Moon – and so supplies fill lighting in many photos.

Additionally there is the surface terrain itself, which will add a little more fill lighting to some scenes."

The last point is the most obviously self-contradictory, as not 5 sentences previously, we see:

“Naturally [bright reflections are observable]. The astronauts’ space suits and much of the skin of the LEM are both of a much higher reflectivity than that of the Lunar terrain. They are not grey or dark; they are bright white or silvery or gold metal.”

So it seems that whether you’re shiny or dull, you can be a significant source of light on the moon. But I suppose there might be some good photographic explanation for this.

I’m pretty sure, though, that the first point is completely off the wall. I’ve seen the moon and the sun in the sky together plenty of times, and I know I have NEVER seen the moon cast even the tiniest shadow in daylight. But even supposing that the moon were five times brighter than it is, I still don’t see how it could possibly compete with the sun, especially considering the total lack of atmospheric dispersion of solar rays on the moon.

And as far as I know, the sun couldn’t have been significantly farther from the moon during the landings than it is from the earth.

So I’d at least give the conspiracy theorists a chance. Their science can’t be any worse than Luna Ticks’.

Except that it is worse. Sam Stone provided a few reasons why.

Personally, I’m hoping the Japanese find a monolith on the moon, rather than some detritus from 30 year old science projects.

how disappointing. not a single attempt to explain how the shadows on the moon fall at angles to each other.

as for sam stone’s points, only the first one is persuasive–and i really have to wonder how many “amateurs” are in possession of a laser with a beam strong enough to make a trip to the moon and back.

as for the second point, one COULD, theoretically, have triangulated the signal as definitively coming from the moon, but i seriously doubt anyone in the amateur realm did. certainly no one was checking for doppler shifts… if somebody has hard evidence to the contrary, please supply it.

third, “Occam’s razor.” please. you SERIOUSLY believe it would be more difficult to make a movie about going to the moon than to actually go? the film stock itself was a sunk cost; they’d use just as much whether they were filming on earth or the moon. and the notion that somehow movie sets are more expensive than lunar landers… if it were so much cheaper to go to the moon than to make a movie about it, i’m sure stanley kubrick would have filmed 2001 “on location.”

now i’m not saying i’m totally sold on the conspiracy theory; hell, i hadn’t even heard the evidence until last night on FOX. but as long as you’re going to demean these peoples’ intelligence, you ought to have a little better ammunition yourselves.

Come on man…

A movie?

Check out 2001 and Star Wars. Those were the cutting-edge “big budget” space movies of the day. If you look close you can see they are fake.

The point about the moon and Earth being reflective is not to suggest that they made their own shadows, but rather that they helped provide fill lighting for the shadows.

Sort of like being outside at night during a full moon. I have seen plenty of shadows from the moon under those circumstances.

I promise you that Soviet Russia was triangulating the signal to confirm that it came from the moon. I don’t know about amateurs, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did either. You know how pyschotic some people get with their hobbies. This was the once in a life-time world series for ham radio operators.

Then there are the hundreds of university sites scattered all over the world. Somehow I don’t see them providing cover for the story without somebody spilling the beans years later.

Well, it would have to be a pretty big conspiracy, wouldn’t it?

You have to design and build aerospace vehicles that must stand up to the scruitiny of engineers decades later, stage the lauch, somehow get the astronauts out of the rocket that everyone saw them go into, hide a big rocket that thousands of people just watched shoot into the sky (they cant see it fall in the ocean), hide the astronauts for a week without anyone seeing them (“Hey Neil? Aren’t you supposed to be headin to the moon or somethin?”), create realistic videos of the astronaunts frolicking in 1/5 normal gravity using 60’s filming techniques, have a capsule fall out of the sky to be picked up by an aircraft carrier with some 5000 crewmen, all while the ENTIRE WORLD watches, including the super-paranoid Russians who would love nothing more than to prove the whole thing didn’t happen!

Not to mention that we didn’t just make one trip to the moon. Were all the Apollo missions staged? Is the entire space program staged?

By the way, have you ever seen a sci-fi movie from the sixties? The effects kind of suck.

The problem with conspiracies is that the more people involved in it, the harder it is to keep it a secret. And the moon landing, fake or not, would need a LOT of people involved.

Also keep in mind that we can’t even keep things link nuclear missle plans secret for long.

BickByro wrote:

There is no contradiction here. The first point was that even though the lunar surface is dark, it’s not totally black, and will reflect a LITTLE bit of light into the shadows. The second point was that the brightly-colored space suits and LEM will reflect more light INTO THE CAMERA than the dark lunar surface, not that they will reflect more light INTO THE SHADOWS.

okay, let’s see…

freedom: 2001 may have been “big budget,” but star wars sure as hell wasn’t. but also consider that those movies were meant to portray space in living technicolor, not merely to provide grainy black-and-white images sufficient in resolution only to confirm that the purported events were actually occuring.

moreover, nasa had a LOT more money than kubrick or lucas…

in any case, the response kind of begs the question: if it were a movie, you could tell it was fake. well, some people say they CAN tell it was fake. so i hardly see how that’s an argument against the conspiracy theory.

if i read the second point correctly, the notion is that, though the earth would not have been bright enough to cast its own shadow while the sun was also in the sky, the earth WOULD have been bright enough to illuminate otherwise shadowed parts of the astronauts/landing equipment.

could somebody please explain this one to me? i’m stumped. i certainly don’t see how it’s anything like “being outside at night during a full moon,” seeing as how the sun IS NOT IN THE SKY at those times. in any case, outside at night during a full moon, a shadow is cast, but objects are certainly not lit up the way that this scenario would demand.

as for the russians’ (or anyone else’s) triangulation of the radio signals, i think some direct evidence is in order. did NASA really publically announce the frequency at which it would be broadcasting from the moon? one would think that such an important transmission would have been on a secret channel, possibly scrambled. i could be wrong. but let’s see the proof.

the truly paranoid would suggest that the signal was transmitted from a repeater planted on the moon by an unmanned probe. i’m not going that far, but i thought it was worth throwing out there.

moving on…

msmith537: the majority of your concerns could have been alleviated by simply launching the astronauts into earth orbit. not a difficult task at all.
whether the equipment stands up to the scrutiny of experts decades later… well, who exactly are the experts getting paid to verify that 30-year-old moonshot prototype equipment actually would have functioned if launched? double-checking all the wiring, etc. etc. i’ve never heard of these people. seems to me that we assume the parts work because that’s what we’ve been told.

finally, let’s not get carried away with the notion that thousands upon thousands of people would have had to have been in on this. there’s no reason more than a few hundred people, absolute maximum, would have needed to be involved.

i’m still not hearing anything too concrete. i thought this was supposed to be “obvious”

missed ya there, tracer…

so let me get this straight: the lunar surface reflects light only into the shadows, and the space suits and LEM reflect light only into the camera?

how does that work?

BickByro wrote:

So wait … you have no problem with the notion that human beings can be launched into Earth orbit and that doing so is “not a difficult task at all” – but you question whether a launch vehicle capable of sending people to the moon would have worked at all?

Lemme give you a teensy tinsy little lesson in astrodynamics. To put an object into Low Earth Orbit, you must impart to it a delta-v of about 18,000 miles per hour. To put an object on an Earth-escape trajectory that will reach the moon, you must impart to it a delta-v of about 25,000 miles per hour.

Why is 18,000 mph “not a difficult task at all” but 25,000 mph highly suspect?


Which doesn’t explain the high-quality photos.

A link to some of these allegedly confusing photos would help.

As to seeing things on the dark side of the LEM - I mean, Jesus, you don’t think there isn’t some reflected light coming off the ground?

First off, there’s no such thing as a “Secret channel.” I can assure you, it having been my job in the Army, that finding what frequencies someone is using is as easy as pie.

As to it being scrambled, it wasn’t; nothing NASA does is secret anyway, and the general public could and did listen to the broadcasts. Watch the movie “Apollo 13” and you’ll see a scene in which Mrs. Lovell is listening to the astronauts and Mission Control on a radio set in her house.

Impossible. If there’s a repeater on the Moon, the signal it repeats must be broadcast there somehow. THAT signal would be a dead giveaway.

BickByro wrote:

ARGH! No no no no no. The article you were quoting was making two separate points, only ONE of which was related to the illumination of shadows. The part where the article was talking about how much more “reflective” space suits and LEMs were than lunar soil was explaining why the space suits and the LEM appeared much brighter, in the pictures, than the lunar soil did. It was not talking about why the shadows are illuminated. Only the other part you quoted, where it talked about the (dark) lunar soil reflecting some light into the shadows, deals with shadow illumination.

Of course, both the spacesuits/LEM and the lunar surface will reflect light into both the camera and into the shadows. Any given patch of space suit/LEM surface will appear brighter in the camera than the lunar soil will. However, there’s a lot MORE lunar soil surface-area than there is spacesuit/LEM surface-area, and so the total amount of light available to be reflected into the shadows will be much greater from the lunar surface than it will from the spacesuits/LEM.

Think of it this way. Imagine two mirrors, one of which is very bright and well polished but only about 10 feet across, and the other of which is very dark and dingy but a couple of miles across. Take a picture of both mirrors. Which mirror will appear brighter in the picture? The smaller, shinier mirror, of course. This was the point the author was making about the space suits and LEM appearing brighter than the lunar soil in the photograph. But which of these two hypothetical mirrors reflects more total light? The larger, darker mirror. The larger mirror reflects less light per square foot, but it has a lot more square feet. So if you were to shine both of these mirrors onto a wide panorama, some parts of which were in sunlight and some parts of which were in shadow, the big dark mirror would illuminate the shadows in the panorama more than the small shiny mirror would.

During the moon landings, the Earth and the sun ARE IN THE SKY at the same time. Earthshine is might, mighty bright–bright enough to cause problems with measurements by Sun sensors. Earth’s albedo is around 30%, compared to the Moon’s 8%. (See And even that 8% is going to be awfully bright when you’re standing on it, and you land right near the terminator during a first quarter moon.

okay, this could take a while, and it’s going to become increasingly difficult to tackle so many arguments at once, but here goes…

tracer (part one): i don’t think 25,000 mph is inherently highly suspect. my point was that it would be easy to put some people in orbit around the earth for a few weeks and say they went to the moon. i don’t think there can be any doubt that doing so would have been significantly easier than actually pulling off the apollo missions.
that doesn’t mean we didn’t go to the moon, of course, just that it wouldn’t have been all that difficult to fake it, as msmith537 had stated.

jmullaney: what does big and round have to do with surface reflectivity again?

rickjay: no, it doesn’t explain the high quality photos, but it would have been (and probably still is) significantly easier to produce a fake, high quality still photo than to produce a fake, high quality film. and (whether you believe the conspiracy or not) it’s worth asking why nasa sent up such great still cameras but such crappy movie cameras.
someone who is more familiar than me with the link system ought to post the photo link, but really if you follow the OP’s link, you’ll find plenty of what’s being discussed.
as to seeing things on the dark side of the LEM… sure, a LITTLE light could reflect of the ground. but the moon isn’t made of polished metal—it’s just a bunch of rocks and dirt. i’ve been snowblinded before, and even caught some nasty glare off of puddles on the road at sunset, but i’ve never seen dirt reflect enough light to give the impression of a separate lighting source, no. have you?
i’ll take your word for it on the secret channel thing, but i still wouldn’t mind a link to some of the evidence that other nations detected the signal coming from the moon. i haven’t seen that sort of thing on the debunking web sites yet.
as for the repeater, couldn’t NASA theoretically have sent a signal from the orbiting capsule-full-of-earthbound-moonwalkers to a repeater (that had been planted on the moon by an unmanned probe), which would in turn transmit the signal to earth on the publically-announced radio band? again, just theoretically. COULD it have been done?

tracer (part two): actually, the article is was quoting was only making ONE point. i’ll reprint it here, unedited, for clarity:

QUESTION: "Photographs – fill lighting
‘Astronauts’ and the ‘LEM’ (‘Lunar’ Excursion Module) seem to be rather suspiciously brightly-lit, even when every other object around them seems to be lost in deep shadow.

Naturally. The astronauts’ space suits and much of the skin of the LEM are both of a much higher reflectivity than that of the Lunar terrain. They are not grey or dark; they are bright white or silvery or gold metal.
Besides, there is not one source of light on the Moon – there are several. There is the point source (the Sun) – and there is Earthshine. Earth is very bright – actually five times brighter than the Moon – and so supplies fill lighting in many photos.
Additionally there is the surface terrain itself, which will add a little more fill lighting to some scenes.
Finally there is the suit worn by the photographer, which can serve as a shiny, white ‘reflector board’ for some scenes."

there is only ONE phenomenon being addressed here: the apparent brightness of the space suits and LEM.
the author attributes this phenomenon to (1) the inherent reflectivity of the suits, by which we must assume he means their reflection of sunlight (2) the effect of the earth shining on the astronauts/LEM from an angle fairly opposite the sun (3) the inherent reflectivity of the lunar surface, which, though not visible very shiny in photographs, is apparently reflective enough to contribute to the illumination of the astronauts/LEM—but not enough to illuminate any of the other objects, which the debunker accepts are “lost in deep shadow” (4) the suit of the astronaut FACING the illuminated astronaut/LEM, who, being illuminated himself, reflects light onto the astronaut/LEM’s already shiny surfaces. right—just add all those factors up and it makes TOTAL sense…

i’m no optics expert, but your illustrative example seems flawed to me. the gist seems to be that the small, shiny mirror provides a reflection that is small but dense with photons, while the larger, dingier one reflects more actual light, but over a larger, more diffuse range.
but as for the notion of “shining both mirrors onto a wide panorama”… i think your analogy breaks down here because the lunar surface IS the wide panorama–it would be more a matter of putting the big dull mirror on the ground face up, then putting the shiny mirror face up on top of that, then shining a bright light at both from above and measuring which reflects more light. even this visualization ends up a little skewed, but it seems that under those basic circumstances, for any photographic purposes, you’d still end up seeing a bright spot where the little mirror was, and not notice any apparent brightening of the smaller mirror due to accumulated diffuse reflections off the dingier mirror.
in any case, it’s not as though the whole of the moon’s marginally reflective surface was focused on Tranquility Base. it still seems to me that any reflections off the lunar surface would have been far too diffuse to provide any significant “fill lighting” for the astronauts/LEM.

pldennison: yes, i know they were in the sky at the same time, that was my point. as for your first link, it looks intriguing, but it’s a bit technical for me. what missions are being discussed? moon missions? and how significant is a degree in this case? what’s being measured? degrees of brightness? i need a little more info to be able to repond adequately.
your second link was a dead end. damn!

Egads . . . you yourself said in this thread " . . . even supposing that the moon were five times brighter than it is, I still don’t see how it could possibly compete with the sun, especially considering the total lack of atmospheric dispersion of solar rays on the moon."

We’re talking about being on the moon, here, not on Earth. There is a hell of a lot more light reaching the surface in the first place, and given the combined reflectivity of Earthshine and light reflected from the lunar surface that you are standing on and which is reflecting unimpeded sunlight . . . it seems so obvious to me.