The Lunatic Fringe
2-Page Photo of Buzz Aldrin in LIFE Magazine, 1969
(Click in Any Image to View Larger)
In this chapter I am going to make mention of additional types of photographic anomalies which appear in the images from the Apollo lunar missions. I will begin by revisiting the image above from the first Moon landing. In this image Buzz Aldrin, the 2nd man to walk on the Moon, is being photographed by Neil Armstrong. I previously emphasized the fact that Aldrin is being lit by a spotlight, for he is standing in a lighting hotspot while the ground around him tapers off into increasing darkness. Such an effect does not occur when a person is standing outside under the light of the Sun.
The main spotlight used to illuminate Aldrin is overhead and behind him. This is revealed by the shadow cast in front of the astronaut. It has been pointed out by many individuals who have examined the Apollo photos, that any surface facing away from the Sun should appear dark with very little detail discernible due to the lack of an atmosphere on the Moon. On Earth, our atmosphere scatters light, casting it in all directions. Scientists refer to this as Rayleigh scattering. The atmospheric scattering of light is the primary reason that shadowed areas on Earth remain significantly illuminated.
There is another factor involved in shadow brightness or darkness. This is the reflectivity of surface materials. If you sit under an umbrella that is erected on a white sandy beach, you will have more illumination than if you were to sit under an umbrella erected in a field of black loamy soil. Yet, in either case, due to the Rayleigh scattering effect of light in the Earth’s atmosphere, you would have sufficient illumination to read a book. The image below demonstrates the significant amount of light available under a large shaded gazebo.
Shade of a Gazebo
On the Moon, an area which lies in shadow would be significantly darker. The Moon has no atmosphere, and this fact alone causes shaded areas to have far less light. Added to this, the lunar surface, or regolith, is on average less reflective than the surface of the Earth. The reflective properties of the lunar regolith have been compared to that of asphalt.
The reflective characteristic of any object or material is referred to as its “albedo.” A perfectly reflective surface has an albedo of 1, whereas a surface that reflects no light has an albedo of 0. In our Solar System, the planet with the highest albedo is Venus. It is estimated at 0.75. The Earth by comparison has an albedo of 0.31, while the Moon has an albedo of 0.12. These numbers, however, represent the average reflectivity of an entire planet as viewed from space. A little more than half (55%) of the light of the Sun reflected back into space from the Earth comes from clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere. Without clouds, the Earth would have an albedo of approximately 0.15, which is still higher than the albedo of the Moon.*
On average, it is estimated that only 7% of the light striking the lunar surface is reflected back. The combination of the low reflective characteristics of the lunar surface, and the absence of an atmosphere to scatter light, results in shadows which are significantly darker on the Moon than they are on Earth. To demonstrate the pronounced blackness of shadows on the Moon, let us refer once more to a recent image from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Tycho Central Peak
This high-resolution composite image of a mountain peak inside of a massive crater demonstrates the darkness of shadows on the Moon. Note how there is NO visible detail of any objects which lie in the shadows of these mountainous peaks. I have placed a white box at the top center of the peak, to identify the area which appears in the following photographic image.
Notice the boulder in the center. The side facing the Sun is brightly illuminated, showing much detail. The shadowed area beyond the boulder is totally obscured. The boulder casts an intensely dark shadow. To the right of the boulder’s shadow, on the illuminated hillside, we can see numerous rocky outcroppings and smaller boulders. We can anticipate that such structures also exist in the area covered by the large boulder’s shadow. Yet we have no hint of anything in the shadow. The lack of reflected light due to an absence of an atmosphere, coupled with the low reflective properties of the lunar soil, results in great visual extremes on the Moon. There is a much sharper delineation between lighted surfaces and shadowed surfaces on the Moon when compared to the Earth.
Another aspect of lunar lighting should be kept in mind. Since, the Moon has no atmosphere to scatter or absorb light, and no clouds to block light, the intensity of the Sun’s light striking the Moon’s surface is much greater than that on Earth. This is why the astronaut’s spacesuits were equipped with visors.
Apollo Astronaut’s Spacesuit
So intense is the Sun’s light on the lunar surface that the astronauts’ visors allowed only 10% of light in the visible range (.39 to .75 microns) to pass through the visor. 90% of the visible light was blocked. This information comes from NASA’s own documentation. It is found in a publication of the Langley Research Center titled Biotechnology, a 290 page document published in 1971.
The visors also reportedly blocked 99% of UV (ultraviolet) light in the .25 to .39 micron range, and 95% of IR (infrared) light in the .75 to 2.5 micron range. Think about this for a moment. Due to the intense brightness of the lunar surface, the astronauts had to wear visors which blocked 90% of visible light. They were trained to only raise their visors when they moved into an area of shadow. There are, however, some Apollo photos which show the astronauts with raised visors while standing in sunlight on the moon’s surface. This is further evidence that the images were staged, for the brilliant light should have been hard to bear.
AS17-146-22296, Astronaut Jack Schmitt with Visor Raised
Consider what effect this brilliant sunlight would have on film. Without a filter, film would be rapidly saturated with light and appear washed out. With a filter, the extreme difference between light and shadow on the Moon would cause shadows to appear impenetrable when the camera was properly adjusted to photograph objects under intense sunlight. It was this very line of reasoning which NASA used to explain why no stars appear in the lunar sky. They say the cameras were set-up for daytime photography, so dimly illuminated objects, such as stars in the sky, did not show up at all. The entire sky appeared as a solid black expanse. If this is true, then the same thing would also occur when the astronauts were taking photos of shadowed objects on the surface of the Moon. Objects illuminated directly by the Sun should appear visible, while everything in shadow should be dark, indistinct, and lacking detail.
The contrast between illuminated and shaded areas on the Moon is much greater than light and shadow on Earth, and it should appear this way in photos. NASA, after all, did not use any specialty film which would allow for a wider range of light exposures such as one would find on the Moon. They used the same Kodak Ektachrome film sold to photographers for use on Earth.
If we were to step into the shade of a building on a sunny day on Earth, there would be a noticeable decrease in light, but we could still see detail quite well. However, on the Moon, if you did the same thing it would be like stepping into the darkness of night. There is therefore no plausible reason that the front of Buzz Aldrin’s spacesuit should be so visible, and the detail so clear. The Sun in all its lunar brilliance is at his back, and the front of his spacesuit is in shadow. We should be able to discern no detail on the shadowed side of Buzz Aldrin. He should appear as a silhouette against a bright backdrop.
Without any front lighting source, and lacking the light scattering properties of the Earth’s atmosphere, all objects lying in shadow on the Moon should appear dark. NASA admits this themselves. On one of their websites the following statements are found.
Without the blue sky, your shadow would be eerily dark, like a piece of night following you around. Weird. Yet that’s exactly how it is on the Moon.
To visualize the experience of Apollo astronauts, imagine the sky turning completely and utterly black while the sun continues to glare. Your silhouette darkens, telling you “you’re not on Earth anymore.”
Shadows were one of the first things Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong mentioned when he stepped onto the surface of the moon. “It’s quite dark here in the shadow [of the lunar module] and a little hard for me to see that I have good footing,” he radioed to Earth…
Above: Blinding sunshine, dark shadows and the lunar lander Antares. From the book FULL MOON by Michael Light, Alfred A. Knopf ©1999.
Given plenty of time to adapt, an astronaut could see almost anywhere.
(Author’s Note: Cameras, unlike people, don’t have plenty of time to adapt.)
Almost. Consider the experience of Apollo 14 astronauts Al Shepard and Ed Mitchell:
They had just landed at Fra Mauro and were busily unloading the lunar module. Out came the ALSEP, a group of experiments bolted to a pallet. Items on the pallet were held down by “Boyd bolts,” each bolt recessed in a sleeve used to guide the Universal Handling Tool, a sort of astronaut’s wrench. Shepard would insert the tool and give it a twist to release the bolt–simple, except that the sleeves quickly filled with moondust. The tool wouldn’t go all the way in.
The sleeve made its own little shadow, so “Al was looking at it, trying to see inside. And he couldn’t get the tool in and couldn’t get it released–and he couldn’t see it,” recalls Mitchell.
“Remember,” adds Mitchell, “on the lunar surface there’s no air to refract light–so unless you’ve got direct sunlight, there’s no way in hell you can see anything. It was just pitch black. That’s an amazing phenomenon on an airless planet…”
Shadows could also be mischievous:
Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Al Bean landed in the Ocean of Storms only about 600 yards from Surveyor 3, a robotic spacecraft sent by NASA to the moon three years earlier. A key goal of the Apollo 12 mission was to visit Surveyor 3, to retrieve its TV camera, and to see how well the craft had endured the harsh lunar environment. Surveyor 3 sat in a shallow crater where Conrad and Bean could easily get at it–or so mission planners thought.
The astronauts could see Surveyor 3 from their lunar module Intrepid. “I remember the first time I looked at it,” recalls Bean. “I thought it was on a slope of 40 degrees. How are we going to get down there? I remember us talking about it in the cabin, about having to use ropes.”
But “it turned out [the ground] was real flat,” rejoined Conrad.
What happened? When Conrad and Bean landed, the sun was low in the sky. The top of Surveyor 3 was sunlit, while the bottom was in deep darkness. “I was fooled,” says Bean, “because, on Earth, if something is sunny on one side and very dark on the other, it has to be on a tremendous slope.” In the end, they walked down a gentle 10 degree incline to Surveyor 3–no ropes required.
It seems that NASA began to get their story straight on the extremes of shadow and light on the Moon as the Apollo missions progressed. This was likely due to questions or criticisms they received regarding some of the photos from early Moon landings. NASA completely bungled things on the Apollo 11 mission. The image below shows Buzz Aldrin exiting the Lunar Module. The Sun appears on the far side. The shadows on the ground reveal that the door Aldrin is exiting is almost 180 degrees opposite the Sun. The entire side of the Lunar Module that is in the image should be in darkness with little or no detail visible. The only way to account for this image is that it was filmed on Earth where Rayleigh scattering occurs, and a secondary light source was used to illuminate the side of the Lunar Module opposite the Sun.
This conclusion is further supported by additional images which show Aldrin exiting the Lunar Module. The following image, designated AS11-40-5866, is one of the most frequently cited examples of NASA having faked the Apollo Moon landings. Aside from the remarkable clarity of detail on what is the shadow side of the Lunar Module, there is a visible lighting hot spot on the heel of Buzz Aldrin’s right boot. The heel of the boot is facing away from the Sun, and the light reflection can only be accounted for through the use of a light source pointed toward the side of the Lunar Module the astronaut is descending.
Buzz Aldrin’s Boot
Look at the images of Buzz Aldrin exiting the Lunar Module above. Compare what you see to the words of Neil Armstrong who descended the same ladder just moments earlier.
It’s quite dark here in the shadow [of the lunar module] and a little hard for me to see that I have good footing.
Does it look hard for you to see in the shadowed side of the Lunar Lander? Not at all. There is even a lighting hot spot on Buzz Aldrin’s heel. If shadows are “eerily dark… like a piece of night following you around,” then why is the shadow side of the Lunar Lander so well lit? Astronaut Ed Mitchell stated, “unless you’ve got direct sunlight, there’s no way in hell you can see anything,” yet there was no direct sunlight on the back side of the Lunar Lander that Aldrin and Armstrong descended. Why was it lit up so well? Those who are engaged in refuting the evidence of the Moon missions having been faked, usually argue that the back of the Lunar Module was visible due to the reflection of sunlight off of the lunar surface. Since the lunar surface’s reflectivity is similar to that of asphalt, and the camera was adjusted to take images in intensely bright sunlight, not shadow, this explanation does not wash.
There is another explanation, however. These images were not photographed on the Moon. They were photographed in a staged environment utilizing multiple light sources here on Earth.
Those who have spent time researching the fakery of the Apollo Moon missions have likely come across the writings and videos of Richard Hoagland. Hoagland was a science advisor to CBS during the years of the Apollo Missions and appeared with Walter Cronkite on some of the network’s broadcasts. Prior to this he was a Curator of Astronomy and Space Science at the Springfield Science Museum, 1964–1967, and Assistant Director at the Gengras Science Center in West Hartford, Connecticut, 1967-1968. Hoagland is the author of two books: The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever (1987), and Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA (2007, revised 2009). The latter book was ranked 21st on The New York Times Best Seller list for paperback nonfiction about a month after its release.
In his books, Richard Hoagland proposes that NASA is covering up evidence of ancient alien civilizations which existed on Mars and the Moon. In Dark Mission, Hoagland uses computers and graphics software which was unavailable during the years of the Apollo missions, to examine the lunar photography supplied by NASA from the Surveyor and Apollo Missions. By altering the lighting, contrast and other visual elements of the NASA photographs, Hoagland was able to detect patterns rising from the lunar surface. These geometric patterns appear in the black areas which form the backdrop of the lunar photos, ostensibly being the sky just above the surface of the Moon.
Surveyor 6 Photo Taken One Hour After Sunset, November 24, 1967
Hoagland contends that this image of the lunar horizon, which he has enhanced with graphics software, reveals the remnants of an immense crystalline dome which ancient planetary travelers built to cover their cities. He estimates that this crystal dome was 6-7 miles high. Such an interpretation of this image seems plausible to Hoagland, for he is basing his conclusions on the assumption that NASA actually landed Surveyor robotic craft on the Moon, and later put men on the moon. He is consequently accepting at face value that what he is looking at is a genuine photograph taken from the Moon’s surface, in full scale, which would cause the geometric patterns in the background to be immense.
However, a far more plausible explanation is forthcoming. This explanation asserts that NASA used one of the scale mock-ups of the lunar surface, such as the ones they built at Langley Research Center, and they used a fabric backdrop, possibly something like 3M’s Scotchlite fabric, placed behind the model of the moon. Hoagland’s photographic enhancements are bringing into view the pattern of the fabric backdrop, not some ancient alien crystal dome that was erected on the Moon.
The image above, appears in Dark Mission, as well as on Hoagland’s website, http://www.enterprisemission.com/. It is an enhancement of a photo from the Apollo 14 mission showing astronaut Ed Mitchell on the lunar surface. By varying the lighting and contrast, Hoagland was able to detect a geometric pattern above the horizon of the Moon. Following is a further enhancement of this same NASA image.
Hoagland once again interpreted this as evidence of an immense crystalline dome structure rising from the lunar surface. Interestingly, in the video edition of Dark Mission, at the 1:28:12 mark, the author states, “What we are seeing is a gridwork of light reflecting material above the Moon.” Absolutely!
Hoagland has however, misidentified the “gridwork of light reflecting material.” It is not a 7 mile high alien crystal dome. Rather, it is panels of Scotchlite reflective material stitched together to use in a front screen projection system at a studio on Earth created to simulate the lunar surface. If this were the actual moon, the scale of the geographic shapes in the background would certainly imply there was a structure many miles high. However, if this is a studio lot on earth, the scale is revealed to be no more than about 30 feet high.
Richard Hoagland, 1994
Hoagland’s Video was recorded at Ohio State University in 1994. During his presentation, Hoagland states, “I was afraid that someone would call the university and say that a lunatic was coming on stage here tonight.” The word “lunatic” originated from the belief that changes in the lunar phase caused periodic insanity. A mentally disturbed person might be referred to as “moon-struck.” Although I would not declare Richard Hoagland to be a lunatic, there is a certain lunacy to his theories. It is believed that President Theodore Roosevelt, in his 1913 autobiography, was the first to use the expression “lunatic fringe.”
Then, among the wise and high-minded people who in self-respecting and genuine fashion strive earnestly for peace, there are foolish fanatics always to be found in such a movement and always discrediting it — the men who form the lunatic fringe in all reform movements.
In a sense, Richard Hoagland is a member of the lunatic fringe of those who seek to bring to light the deceptions of America’s space agency. He brings discredit to the subject by positing incredible theories of ancient extraterrestrial civilizations on the moon. Even while contending that NASA is engaged in a cover-up that centers on the Apollo Moon missions, he brings into disrepute the very notion of a deception by associating it with theories that are even more fanciful than the tales NASA would have us to believe.
Hoagland has in one sense provided a service by bringing to light the unusual character of the lunar backdrops in the photographs supplied by NASA. At the same time, he leads men away from the truth by being a believer in the government deception that asserts men rode rockets to the Moon, walked on its surface, planted flags, took photos, golfed, and then returned safely back to Earth to tell the story of their adventures.
It remains therefore, to explain these mysterious backdrops. That subject will be the focus of our next chapter.