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Conspiracy theories seem to persist no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary, for example: the grassy knoll theory and the belief in a Moon hoax. I can recommend a good psychologist if you believe in the grassy knoll and I can show you some sound facts to prove that men have walked on the Moon.
One of the first things that Moon hoax theorist point to is the lack of stars in the background of the pictures from the Moon. In truth, the stars are there. They are just too faint to be seen. Professional photographers point out that you can’t see lights in the background if the foreground object is very bright. Since the landings were shot in daylight, it would be difficult for the unaided eye to spot the stars.
Well, back to the pictures for the next Moon hoax theory. The shadows are not black. Objects in shadow can be seen, sometimes fairly clearly, including a plaque on the side of the lander that can be easily read. If the Sun is the only source of light on the Moon and there is no air to scatter that light, shouldn’t the shadows should be black, they ask. Actually, the Sun is not the only source of light on the Moon. The Earth is a fraction of the brightness of the Sun, so it is not bright enough to fill in the shadows. Then what is that other light source? The Moon itself. The lunar dust has a peculiar property: it tends to reflect light back in the direction from where it came. So if you were to stand on the Moon and shine a flashlight at the surface, you would see a very bright spot where the light hits the ground, but, oddly, someone standing a bit to the side would hardly see it at all.
Another Moon hoax points to the the images. This one wonders why there isn’t there a blast crater where the lunar lander fired its rockets to land. Let’s go to the science for this one. The engine nozzle was about 137 cm across, that means that it had an area of 5842 square cm and only generated a pressure of only about .68 kg for every 2.5 cm! That’s not a lot of pressure. In a vacuum the exhaust from a rocket spreads out very rapidly. The opposite is true on Earth where the atmosphere contains and directs a rocket blast in a long column.
Next, Moon hoax aficionados, or crackpots if your prefer, complain that there was no visible flame from the rockets fired to return the astronauts to Moon orbit, so the landing was not real. Back to the science for this one. The lander used a mix of hydrazine and the oxidizer dinitrogen tetroxide. These two chemicals ignite upon contact and produce a by-product that is transparent, and has no flame. The flames and smoke we see during an Earth-based launch come from the solid rocket boosters. Those fuels produce flame, so, if the Moon hoax theories are correct, then wouldn’t flames be visible if the landing was actually staged here on Earth?. Hopefully, you can see the junk science that Moon hoax proponents use to steer innocent minds their way and rise above the hooey.
We have written many articles about the moon conspiracy for Universe Today. Here’s an article about the Moon landing hoax, and here’s an article about the Moon rocks.
We’ve also recorded an entire episode of Astronomy Cast all about the Explorations on the Moon. Listen here, Episode 114: The Moon, Part 2: Exploration of the Moon.