Liam Birchall is an astronomy guide at Sydney Observatory. Below he discusses the lunar landing hoax.
As the clouds clear and our companion moon is waxing itself into the eastern sky, we here at Sydney Observatory have been hearing once again rumblings about the Moon Landing “Hoax” on commercial radio and thought to revisit some of these spurious claims.
According to the hoax view, NASA did not land on the moon in July 1969 as many believe. It was staged in a film studio and was a public relations coup in the midst of the cold war. The USA desperately needed ‘a win’ after the Soviets had scored a number of ‘firsts’. After Sputnik became the first satellite to orbit the earth in 1957 and Yuri Gagarin became a national hero in Russia by successfully becoming the first person to orbit the earth in 1961, US president Kennedy ambitiously proclaimed that astronauts would go to the moon.
Continuing with this rendition of events, when the United States realised that they could not follow through with such an ambitious enterprise and, unable to admit failure to the world, they travelled to a Hollywood back lot and staged the entire thing.
Well, now that we have identified a credible motive, we will try to ignore for the time being, the somewhat mammoth logistical exercise that such a mass deception would require.
Apart from the footage of Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin on the Moon which, I’m sure, would have been a blast, thousands of colluding actors would need to be reading from the same script. Leaders, politicians and bureaucrats as we know too well, have understandable difficulty in controlling their message.
This incredible feat of convincing an unsuspecting public of the veracity of this hoax is equally as impressive as setting feet on the lunar surface.
A popular film documentary exposé entitled “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” hosted by X-Files actor Mitch Pileggi in 2001 has allowed conspiracy minded individuals to flourish on the World Wide Web.
This film refutes the landing with a litany of irrefutable pieces of evidence that can, upon closer inspection be refuted easily. Of course it is hard to admit these realities if one approaches it with a deep distrust of big government malfeasance. The moon really is a different place to our planet earth and the so-called flaws in the imagery are a further testament to this.
We run into trouble when we examine the filming ‘flaws’ that are used as evidence to support the moon landing hoax. These ‘flaws’ in the images just doesn’t stack up to basic scientific scrutiny and the physical reality of the lunar environment. Yes different optical physics are at play in the airless low gravity world of our moon.
Some of the perceived discrepancies in the footage don’t even need an awareness of how a world without a true atmosphere behaves. For example, it is asked, ‘why are there no stars visible behind the astronauts?’ Well, to be clear, the moon itself has a bright reflective surface as do the astronaut’s bright reflective suits. Any type of camera in a light rich environment, both on earth or the moon is required to restrict the amount of light that the film is exposed to, to obtain a clear image. A quick shutter speed in photography will limit the amount of luminous objects that will be perceived. Stars, sadly, because of their great distance from us will always be the first lights sources that struggle to be perceived or detected.
According to theorists, this is only one, of a multitude of flaws in the moon landing footage. Flaws such as; Why does the flag wave if there is no wind? and Why is there is no blast crater?
I have started with the most glaringly flawed rationale for the hoax. We will address these issues further in our next post.