Neil Armstrong didn't go to the moon... But RIP
Moon landing conspiracy theorists claim that the Apollo program and the moon landings were staged by the U.S. government, specifically NASA. The conspiracy theorists believe that NASA manufactured or tampered with evidence and convinced Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and the other Apollo mission astronauts to lie to the public for their entire lives.
As far-fetched as that may sound to the average person — and there is no serious evidence in support of it, and much to contradict it — these conspiracists have been able to maintain broad public interest. In 2001, FOX broadcast a documentary called “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” that explored the claim that the U.S. faked the initial moon landing in order to win the “space race” to be the first country to the moon.
A handful of examples from conspiracy theorists on twitter after Neil Armstrong’s death Saturday show that these ideas persist, even after high-definition photos taken by the LROC spacecraft have shown the lander modules, tracks left by the astronaut, and the Apollo flags still standing on the moon…
There are many theories that moon landing conspiracists have been touting for decades to “prove” that the manned moon landings were shot on a studio set and that man has still never set foot on the moon. These are the main arguments for their cause:
9. The Flag Waves
The surface of the moon is airless, so why would the American flag appear to be “waving” in a breeze?
Spaceflight historian Roger Launius responds “the video you see where the flag’s moving is because the astronaut just placed it there, and the inertia from when they let go kept it moving.” Additionally, the astronauts accidentally bent the rods that held the flag in place several times, creating the appearance of a rippling flag in the iconic photographs.
10. There Aren’t Any Stars
No pictures from the moon landing show any stars, and Neil Armstrong has recalled that he couldn’t see the stars from the moon. Conspiracists say that the stars were edited out because NASA knew that hardcore amateur astronomers would be able to tell by their positions if the pictures were faked.
In reality, all the landings happened during the lunar daytime. The stars were outshone by the sun and the reflection of the sun off the moon’s surface — just like they are here on earth in the daytime. Additionally, cameras were set for daylight exposure and could not detect the stars.
11. There’s No Crater Under The Lander
Where’s the damn crater?
Dust on the moon isn’t like dust on the earth — there’s no air. Any dust kicked up by the landing would have flown away from the lander and fall to the surface some distance away. Not to mention that the lander landed at a very low speed compared to a landing on earth, since there’s a relative lack of gravitational pull.
12. The Crosshairs In The Photos Sometimes Appear To Be Behind Objects
The cameras were fitted with a reseau plate, so a photographed object should never appear in front of the grid. Obviously, they were pasted on (like the flag in this photo).
But… this only appears in copied, scanned, and “improved” photos, not the originals. The pictures are just overexposed, which causes the bright white areas to bleed over the crosshair, or for the crosshair to become washed out. Check the originals: the crosshairs are there.
13. The Shadows Are Inconsistent.
They appear to slant one way in the foreground and a different way way in the background. That’s totally impossible… right? Right?!?
That’s been MythBusted. The MythBusters crew went to great lengths to recreate the lighting situation, reflectivity of the lunar surgace and space suit, and set up a geometrically equivalent scene. Their photographs show the exact same effect as the “impossible” Apollo photos like the one above.
There are hundreds of other ideas conspiracists can give you for proving that the moon landing was faked: from “the pictures are too good to be true” (it was a really nice camera) to “why haven’t we gone back?” (being first was that important).
If you’re interested in reading more about what the theories are and how they have been debunked, try the super-comprehensive non-profit website Clavius Moon Base.