Russian paper promotes Moon Hoax?

Russian paper promotes Moon Hoax?

Russian paper promotes Moon Hoax?

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 29 2008 1:21 PM

Russian paper promotes Moon Hoax?

A Russian newspaper has an article about Apollo, and honestly I can't tell if they are trying to promote the hoax, play a prank, or if it's just a puzzle contest they are using to challenge their readers (note: very irritating and some NSFW ads on that site.)

[Update: In the comments, Al pointed out that this was indeed a puzzle for the readers, and not a promotion of the Hoax. Good on ya, Al!]

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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It's set up like a standard Apollo Moon Hoax question: two pictures from Apollo 17 are shown. In one, background mountains are visible, as is the lunar lander on the right. In the next picture, the mountains are still there, but the lander is gone!

Two pans of an Apollo 11 EVA site

See, over on the right? In the top picture, the lander is obvious. In the second, it's gone, replaced by a piece of equipment. The newspaper appears to claim that another astronaut must have been left on the Moon to take the picture, or some sort of goofiness like that (the reasoning is that if the lander is gone, and someone was still there to take the picture, then they must have stranded an astronaut on the Moon; I've heard this sort of thing before). I ran the article through an online translator, and of course some of the phrasing is ambiguous.

What's going on here?

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To me, it's obvious: the pictures were taken at two different locations. The top one was near the lander, but the bottom one was from farther away. The mountains are so far away that they hardly appear to change, but in the foreground things changed a lot. It's just perspective. I can even prove it!

The pictures are pans: multiple images stitched together to provide a much wider view of the Moon. The newspaper provides links to the Lunar and Planetary Institute page which hosts the pans (originals here and here), and there is a much higher-resolution image there. I looked at the second image, and what did I see in the background?

Zoom in on the lander in one of the Apollo 17 pans

Yup. The lander is clearly visible in that image, way in the background. The astronaut obviously walked away from the mountains before taking the second series of images, making the lander look much smaller in relation to the more distant mountains.

Case closed.

Well, kinda. I'm still wondering what the newspaper's motivation is here. Is it just a puzzle for the readers, like the Junior Jumble or the acrostic? Or are they really trying to promote the nonsensical claim that NASA faked the Moon landings? Either way, it's an opportunity for me to show you how to fight the kind of silliness usually tossed about by Moon Hoaxers. Remember: if someone tells you NASA faked the Apollo missions, there is something they aren't telling you -- like the proof they are completely wrong is in the very photo they're showing you.

Tip o' the spacesuit visor to Jim Oberg.