Why Does The Moon Dance So?

An Internet denizen asks how the moon’s axis and orbit combine to affect how we see the moon, and the answer is far more delightful than you might imagine.

For purposes of understanding why we can only view one side of the moon from any point on Earth, you can assume that both have the same axis of rotation (they don’t, but we’ll come back to that) and that you are looking down on the north pole of both Earth and moon:

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How Did We Do It?

An Internet denizen asks:

Q: How were we able to put a man on the moon with the level of technology that was available in 1969?

The answer? By spending a crap ton of money over ten years, peaking at 5% of the federal budget. And by relying as much at possible on already proven technology, which isn’t as “high-tech” as you think (more on that below).

Q: Did NASA have advanced technologies that were just not made public?

Very little. They developed the advanced technologies they needed, and except where they were borrowing from the military, they then made them public. NASA’s primary job, after all, is to promote and nurture the American aerospace industry.

Here are a few examples of how the technology came to be:

  • Back in 1961, NASA knew it would need a big moon rocket, but they didn’t know how big or have a design for it. They knew, however, that back in 1955, Rocketdyne had started work on the granddaddy of rocket engines for the Air Force. The first attempt (the E-1) had been a dead end, but the second try (the F-1) had been successfully fired in 1957—the year before NASA was founded. The Air Force had abandoned the engine, but NASA paid Rocketdyne to continue development, and the engine was improved continually throughout the Apollo program, including thrust and reliability upgrades from one mission to another. For all that, the F-1 was in many ways a crude engine by today’s standards. In particular, it required hundreds of difficult, manual welds in refractory metal, which all had to be perfect. Today, the same engine could be formed in three (principle) pieces and welded together by robots, but back then, it was all done by hand.

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Who Started the Moon Hoax Myth?

A while back, a reader of my moon hoax debunkery asked who started the hoax idea rolling in the first place.

Naturally, at the time of the Apollo Program, some folks didn’t believe it, just as many people don’t believe anything they ought to or do believe what they shouldn’t. I had a high school teacher who didn’t believe in the Titanic because “nothing that big could float” (never mind the fact that by the time I was in high school, about a third of all ships on the oceans were larger than the Titanic).

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A Little Help From Our Rivals

During the Apollo 13, nations around the world did what they could to render aid to the United States and our three beleaguered astronauts. Those who are fans of space history may be aware that this included our Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union, who had worked through scientific back channels to keep Apollo radio frequencies clear at least as early at Apollo 8. During Apollo 13, Premier Aleksei N. Kosygin sent a message to the US government saying:

I want to inform you the Soviet Government has given orders to all citizens and members of the armed forces to use all necessary means to render assistance in the rescue of the American (Apollo 13) astronauts.

In addition, two Russian merchant vessels were diverted into the expected South Pacific recovery area in case they were needed to aid in search and rescue. Similarly, the UK send six navel vessels to the Indian Ocean and France and Italy put naval and air forces on alert to cover the Mediterranean.

But there’s another story of cooperation you may not have heard about. In September of 1970, the Soviet Union gifted the United States with a recovered Apollo capsule.

What?

Yep, but maybe not quite what that sounds like.

NASA had about thirty boilerplate capsules made for training of recovery crews. On of these, BP-1227 was lost at sea during training of recovery forces (sources are unclear as to whether these were British forces or US Naval forces based in Spain). The wayward capsule was found by a Russian fisherman in the Bay of Biscayne, recovered by the Soviet Navy, and inspected by Soviet scientists who were disappointed to learn it was only a training mock up. When the US Coast Guard cutter Southwind made a goodwill stop at the port of Murmansk a year later, the Soviets surprised them by returning it.

The capsule was returned to the US, cleaned up, and put in storage for several years before finally being donated to the Public Museum of Grand Rapids in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where it remains on display.


Cool huh? Had you heard this story? Have you seen the capsule? Leave a note and let us know.

What the Evidence Actually Says About the Moon Landings

An Internet denizen asked whether there is any “real evidence” that the moon landings were faked. There isn’t, of course, but the blathering of those who think otherwise provides ample evidence for an alarming level of popular ignorance. To wit, some answers to this question, properly addressed:

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Proof of Neil’s Giant Leap

Someone recently asked, “How can I convince my dad that Apollo 11 went to the moon?…He thinks later missions may have gone, but that Apollo 11 was faked just to meet Kennedy’s goal and beat the Reds”.


Simple. The Russians were watching. And listening.

The only way to convincingly fake a transmissions from the moon is to send transmissions from the moon. In addition to the high-capacity S-band transmitter in the CSM, the Apollo Command Module, Service Module, Lunar Module, and S-IVB upper stage each had their own independent omni-directional VHF transmitters which they used to communicate with each other and with ground stations and to support radio range finding.

Could the Soviets track these signals? You betcha.

  • A Kentucky HAM radio operator named Larry Baysinger (W4EJA) did just that. On July 20, 1969, he listened in on 35 minutes of VHF chatter between Mike Collins (in orbit) and Neil and Buzz (on the surface), including the president’s “phone call,” all of which arrived in his headset about five seconds before it reached the TV inside the house. Baysinger used a home-brew chicken-wire 8×12 foot corner horn antenna he had built earlier for radio astronomy. This was sensitive enough that his buddy had to continually adjust his aim or the moon’s orbit would carry the transmissions out of focus. The Soviets and other national governments of course had far larger and more accurate antennas, and would have had no trouble telling the CSM in orbit from the landing site, or in decoding the S-band transmissions.

https://i0.wp.com/www.arrl.org/images/view/AWE/Graney/LB001.jpg?resize=374%2C606

  • Apollo 11 communications were independently recorded by the Bochum Observatory in West Germany using a 20 meter dish. The page, A Tribute to Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, has a link to the Bochum recording (heard in the right stereo channel only, with the Goldstone voice added in the left).

  • A compilation of independent astronomical observations of the mission appeared in Sky and Telescope magazine, November 1969, pp. 358–359. These could not have been faked except by placing multiple alternate spacecraft in the announced positions at the announced times—which would rather defeat the purpose.
  • Apollo 11 was tracked by the Madrid Apollo Station in Fresnedillas, Spain. Most of the personnel were not with NASA, but Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacia. Were they all in on a conspiracy together? I think not.
  • The Lick Observatory in San Jose not only tracked Apollo 11 and let throngs of journalists and well wishers see the spacecraft through their telescopes, they were standing by to use the new laser retro-reflector as soon as it was deployed.
  • The Table Mountain Observatory in South Africa tracked Apollo 11 and published pictures in “Observations of Apollo 11”, Sky and Telescope, November 1969, pp. 358-359. Here is a 20 minute exposure from that article showing the spacecraft (as a streak) right where NASA said it should be:

  • The Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK tracked the mission in both optical and radio frequencies. Jodrell was tracking the Soviet Luna 15 probe at that time and knew when it had failed. They certainly would have known if Apollo 11 had not really landed.

All of which is to say, the moon landing could not have been faked. Not the first landing. Not the last. Not any of the in-between. Will hoax monkeys never learn? Yes Virginia, We Really Did Land On The Moon


Eavesdropping on Apollo 11

Otter Creek – South Harrison Observatory

Apollo 11 anniversary: Lick Observatory scientists recall landmark experiment 40 years ago

Bill Keel’s Space Bits

That Our Flag Was Still There

I was recently asked about this pair of images, suggested by moon hoaximonkians that the whole Apollo program was one big load of bull, as real and Donald Trump’s hair:main-qimg-91095b3a66dea9ae83e04217569e73a3

The flags in these two shots are suspiciously similar…These side-by-side comparisons reveal the startling fact that BOTH flags are billowing positively towards the camera…blah blah, blah.”

Originally, I suspected these had been modified as is often the case with hoax monkeys, who either twist things to fit their narrative or simply don’t bother to go find decent quality source material open which to base their flights of fancy. After all, the image on the left was used in a well-known composite called “Flag and Earth,” created in 2003 by Ricardo Salamé Páez.

However, good quality scans are available at Apollo 11 Image Library. Neither is from the Data Acquisition Camera. Both are from magazine 40, loaded into the Hasselblad used for the first EVA. The image on the left is cropped from magazine shot 5905. The one on the left is cropped and blown up from shot 5885.

If the images appear similar, it’s because they are pictures of the same flag photographed from opposite vantage points. For analysis, NASA compiled this map of all features, equipment, and photos taken at the Apollo 11 landing site:

So the images are real, just carefully cropped and manipulated from low quality source and presented with a false claim that they are impossibly “billowing” in the wrong directions. How this is any sort of hoax claim is hard to imagine. After all, someone would have to go to a lot of trouble to MAKE this happen, it’s not like a flag would be very likely to “billow” identically in two different directions in two different shots on its own.

In fact, the flag is not billowing at all. It’s hanging motionless from a metal rod. The rod is too short for the flag so that the fabric can be gathered like a curtain, to sort of simulate waving, but w the moon, they found the end retained the curl from having spent months packed tightly inside a narrow plastic tube. There may also be static electricity at play, this being nylon in a perfectly dry environment.

But okay, it’s a silly claim, but let’s take a look.

First the right image. This is the highest resolution available for this image, blown up to match the size of the left image, and I defy anyone to definitively determine whether any of the folds are towards or away from the camera. The only thing clear in this fuzzy frame is that the flag is fairly opaque. It’s hard to tell from this frame, but we know from the log and from the other picture that the curl near the end of the strips is not a simple bend or roll but is bunched, so it makes sense that it will cast a similar shadow on both sides (it is is similar, but not identical).

Now the left image. Here it’s quite clear that this is not a flag billowing in the breeze but is creased and crumpled cloth. The “billow” indeed appears to project toward the camera on both sides–it isn’t a billow, it’s a gather or bunch.: The shadow is similar but not identical on each side, and what should be the upper left corner (the little flap protruding a third of the way from the bottom, clearly is on the side facing the camera. Going back, the same protrusion is clearly behind the flag in the right image.

And the more you compare the images, considering the stripes are pointing almost directly into the sun, you can see that we are looking at mirror faces of the same, non-moving flag. The fold in the lower stripes in the left image covers one star that remains visible in the right image. A fold at the bottom of the “billow” in the right image is covered in the left. Looking at the ripples where the stars attach to the the rod, the ripples occur in precisely the same spot in each frame, but the prominently lit star in the upper right of the left image is hidden in shadow in the right–the ripples are reversed as they should be.

So like everything put forth by the hoax monkeys, close analysis of good source material only counters the claim.


Forget the conspiracies. Get some intentional fiction free from C Stuart Hardwick

About This Moon Malarky

I try to be tolerant and understanding of other people’s positions, but moon-hoax conspiracultists really get my dander up. I mean….I mean…no, we’ll come back to that.
My recent post, Yes virginia we really did land on the moon has been very popular, and prompted someone on Quora to asked what are the best pieces of evidence that the moon landings were faked. Well, there are none. No, really. None at all. There are only assertions made by people who have absolutely. No. Clue:
  • No stars in pictures (camera stopped down for lunar surface )
  • Flags waving (held by wire)
  • Apollo 11 flag “billowing ” (it was curled from long storage)
  • No blast crater under the LEM (early engine cutoff was to prevent cratering)
  • Dust around the lander. Or something.
  • Non-parallel shadows. (The moon has terrain)
  • Seemingly identical backgrounds. (when kilometers away)
  • Lander unable to balance itself on a rocket. (Like Surveyor and Lunakod did? Like space-X did–YESTERDAY–with six times the gravity and cross winds?)
  • Lunar trainer impossible to fly. (It was not, except when it broke).
  • No flames from lunar launch. (small UDMH engine in a vacuum)
  • Herky-jerky movement of LEM (in low frame rate engineering camera films)
  • No RCS plumes (in same footage with shutter speed less than thruster duration)
  • Astronauts footage shot in slow-motion (demonstrably not so)
  • Why was every picture perfect? (Because NASA didn’t put the crappy ones in Life—but they are on the website)
  • Missing crosshairs in photos (because LIGHT)
  • The deadly radiation of space (is not deadly for a mere camping trip)

accident-christmas

Every single assertion made by these hoaxicanians only demonstrates their own ignorance of physics, optics, basic science, basic math, how to keep a secret (tell only two people–then kill them), how rockets work, how air works, how inertia works, the effects of radiation on the human body, how static charge affects objects, the state of electronics in the 1960s, how TV works, gravity–and EVERY OTHER SINGLE THING

But that’s okay. If it will make the world a better place and my blog a busier nexus of nerd-dom, I’m prepared to refute every single claim by any hoaxicanian anywhere, no matter how daft or ditsy–if that’s what you all would like.

But first, what think ye of this quick and dirty stab? Does this do it in a nutshell? Want more? Have a few dozen more assertions to add to my list (I’ve heard some doozies)? Let me know. The more the merrier.

Why Are There No Stars On the Moon?

Moon hoax wackadoos have long complained that we couldn’t have gone to the moon because there are no stars in the pictures. It all had to have been shot on a sound stage. By idiots. Too stupid to think of the stars.

Right. Actually, prominent stars in the Apollo picture would have been suspicious. As anyone who’s ever played around with a camera at night can tell you, stars are only a little brighter than moon hoaxers. We went to the moon in the daytime. When you set a camera’s exposure to capture shiny spacecraft and smiling ‘nauts posing on a gleaming lunar surface, the stars kinda fade away. They ARE there, though, if you look for them.

This is frame 5905 from magazine 40 shot during Apollo 11. Stars are clearly visable at full res (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/AS11-40-5905HR.jpg).as11-40-5905hr
AS14-64-9197, from EVA2 on Apollo 14:https://i0.wp.com/www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a14/AS14-64-9197HR.jpg?resize=948%2C954&ssl=1
That’s Earth up in the sky, and Venus to the right of the antenna. Blow this image up and you can see a number of the brighter stars.
Here is 9207 from magazine 64, with a number of stars clearly in evidence even without full resolution:
https://i0.wp.com/www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a14/AS14-65-9207HR.jpg?resize=942%2C954&ssl=1
And here is a color shot from magazine 67 showing a few dim stars, the brightest directly above the lunar ranging retroreflector:
https://i0.wp.com/www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a14/AS14-67-9386HR.jpg?w=1170&ssl=1
The stars are right where they are supposed to be. The only mystery is, why a bunch of numnuts who don’t understand such a fundamental aspect of photography as exposure, presume to attempt photoanalysis in the first place.
By the way, these are all scans from prints, available at Apollo 14 Lunar Surface Journal

 

As always, skepticism is healthy, paranoid delusion, less so. Have your own favorite example of moon hoaxican tripping over their own brains? Leave a comment and share.

Outer Spacey Music

The media has been all abuzz today with amazing “revelations” of alien music heard by the crew of Apollo 10 on the dark side of the moon and “classified” until 2008.

Really?

Got a source for that guys? A source other than Fox News or the Interwebs? Cause I do, and it’s not classified, it’s right on the official web site of Nasa’s history office: http://history.nasa.gov/ap10fj/as10-day5-pt20.htm

Some Apollo data was classified at the time (remember the Cold War and the Space Race?) and some of it might not have been released in a timely manner due to oversight, but there was certainly no special treatment given to this event on some “spooky” account. How do I know? Simple. I read the freakin transcript.

Here’s the deal. Apollo 10 went to the moon and did everything but touch down. They detached the LEM and maneuvered in space, the CSM and the LEM, orbiting together as the LEM prepared to go down on a checkout flight. The idea was to run through a landing, but do a planned abort to test the ascent propulsion system and guidance without getting too low for rescue by the CSM in case of failure.

What is being reported as some great mystery is this exchange, plainly recorded in the publicly available transcript just as they were testing their radar (Snoopy is the Lunder lander, flying free of the CSM):

102:12:53 Stafford (in Snoopy): You want some more brownies?

102:12:54 Cernan (in Snoopy): No.

102:12:56 Stafford (in Snoopy): [Garbled] go hungry.

102:13:02 Cernan (in Snoopy): That music even sounds outer-spacey, doesn’t it? You hear that? That whistling sound? (This is the first mention of the sound.)

102:13:06 Stafford (in Snoopy): Yes.

102:13:07 Cernan (in Snoopy): Whooooooooooo.

102:13:12 Young (in CSM): Did you hear that whistling sound, too?

102:13:14 Cernan (in Snoopy): Yeah. Sounds like – you know, outer-space-type music.

102:13:18 Young: I wonder what it is.

102:13:20 (Cernan and Stafford discuss burned insulation outside their LEM windows.)

102:13:29 Cernan (in Snoopy): – eerie, John?

102:13:34 Young: Yes, I got it, too. I was going to see who was outside.

102:13:45 Stafford (in Snoopy): You mark that set of features, Gene-o. I’m going to fix us some grape juice. OK? (Stafford is clearly taking Young’s remark as a joke. All is well.)

. . .[The next three minutes are spent discussing photography of a lunar crater, altitude and range, and how well the radar is performing.]. . .

102:17:58 Cernan (in Snoopy): Boy, that sure is weird music.

102:18:01 Young: We’re going to have to find out about that. Nobody will believe us.

102:18:07 Cernan (in Snoopy): No. It’s a whistling, you know, like an outer space-type thing. (He means like a theramin, commonly used in scifi movies of his youth. In fact, it sounds more like a lightning strike creating shortwave radio noise that travels around the ionosphere back on earth, but its much more uniform than that.)

phasing-insertion-sml

102:18:10 Young: Probably due to the VHF ranging, I’d guess. (Yeah, that’s what it sounds like to me too, either that or electrical noise from static charge movement we now know to occur near the lunar terminator due to the solar wind.)

102:18:16 Cernan (in Snoopy): Yes. I wouldn’t believe there’s anyone out there. OK, Tom, I’m going to call up P20 (Program 20, universal tracking–using the radar).

102:18:26 Cernan (in Snoopy): We want to pressurize our APS here. You get your Rendezvous Radar breakers all In?

102:18:29 Stafford (in Snoopy): Oh, yes. I’m locked on to him (The LEM radar is locked onto the CSM)

102:18:31 Cernan (in Snoopy): OK.

102:18:42 Stafford (in Snoopy): It may be a side lobe (The “music” might be a side lope of the radar beam interfering with the radio.

102:19:01 Stafford (in Snoopy): It’s weird, isn’t it?

102:19:03 Cernan (in Snoopy): Isn’t that weird?

102:19:11 Stafford (in Snoopy): I think that’s a side lobe.

102:19:15 Cernan (in Snoopy): Is it? Huh?

102:19:17 Stafford (in Snoopy): Yep.

And there you go. Later analysis confirmed the cause to be interference between the VHF radio gear on the two spacecraft. The great mysterious “space music,” which according to “News” reports was “classified till 2008” was just the rendezvous radar leaking into the radio spectrum. You know, my college radio station had sideband leakage into the shortwave bands, and even though our transmission was FM, we once got a letter from a guy 600 miles away in Illinois saying he listened on shortwave (AM).

I’m not sure where this “classified” recording would have come from. Apollo uses a special recorder to store voice and instrument data for compressed transmission back to earth. The recordings were transcribed back in the ’70s, and stuck in a warehouse somewere. The have been out on the Internet for a few years, but there is no good index and the recordings are raw. Crew voices are often inaudible beneath the thrum of the instrument signal data. It’s possible someone went looking for the “music” and was able to extract it from the background noise. It would not be surprising if it survived, given that it was heard over the radio by both the CSM and LEM.

At any rate, it wasn’t little green DJ’s playing “Space Music.” It was interference from the rendezvous radar other radio emmissions from the two spacecraft, and the (rather obvious) testement to that fact is the crew’s reaction: Hey what’s that? The Radio. Great, want some juice.

As if going to the freakin moon isn’t entertaining enough.

Geez.