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Moon Landing Conspiracy

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  • #16
    PHOTO ANALYSIS: Converging shadows
    Fig. 1 - Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong photographs Tranquility Base from some distance behind the lunar module. (NASA: AS11-40-5961)
    In Fig. 1 the photographer's shadow falls directly away from him, but the shadows of the rocks in the lower right fall at an angle, and some of them seem to fall almost horizontally. Since the light rays from the sun are parallel, the shadows must also be parallel. Clearly this was photographed using several artificial lights.

    See the detailed discussion about perspective through the camera. While it's true that the shadows cast by sunlit objects are roughly parallel over flat, level ground, it is not true that they will always appear parallel when photographed. In fact, they will appear parallel to the eye or camera only under very special circumstances.
    Fig. 2 - Converging shadows of objects lit by the sun. A combination of terrain and perspective produces shadows in the upper right of the image that appear to lie almost at right angles to the shadow of the photographer.
    An easily-seen feature of perspective is its tendency to make shadows appear more horizontal the farther they are away from the viewer. This affects many of the photographs conspiracists say show anomalous shadows.
    Fig. 3 - The close-up surface camera resting at an angle. Its handle casts the narrow foreground shadow in Fig. 1. (NASA: AS11-40-5957)
    In a real photograph, perspective requires the shadow to point to the photographer's feet, which must be underneath the horizontal center of the frame. [Colin Rourke (Aulis PDF), after Jack White and John Costella]

    Neither Rourke nor White and Costella before him offers any sort of example, argument, computation, or line of reasoning for this assertion. In fact there is no such "rule" of perspective. Figs. 2 and 4 were specifically taken to address this claim and show photographer shadows that align with the left edge of the frame. Yes, terrain and camera rotation affect the appearance of the shadow, but the terrain here is flat and the cammera cannot be rotated because it is fixed to the "breastplate." [Rourke, Ibid.]

    No, this famous photograph was taken from the rim of Little West crater. The ground slopes downward and away to the left. What Rourke inaccurately calls the "breastplate" is the RCU, the remote control unit for the space suit equipment. Contrary to popular belief, it hung loosely from the backpack straps on two hooks. There was ample play in the mounting hardware to aim the camera. Perspective cannot explain the extreme angle of the shadow at bottom center.

    Probably not, but in analyzing photographs one cannot presume that the object casting it is perfectly vertical. Objects will only cast parallel shadows if they themselves are parallel along the line of illumination. As seen in Fig. 3, which was taken just prior to Fig. 1, the close-up surface camera, whose handle is casting the shadow in Fig. 1, is tilted at an angle. There is a peculiar halo around the shadow of the astronaut's head. This is obviously a "hot spot" caused by studio light meant to emphasize the shadow.

    It would be strange to introduce such an artificial lighting scenario in a photograph intended to depict a natural circumstance. In fact the "halo" is the response of the textured lunar surface to a phase angle of zero. At that point in the photograph, the photographer is looking right down the direction from which the light is coming, hence his shadow. The shadows of objects -- rocks, craters, grains of dust -- are being hidden by the objects themselves.

    This, instead, confirms that sunlight is the only significant source of light in this photograph. You do not get such phase-dependent effects from studio lighting of any kind.
    Fig. 4 - An approximation of Fig. 1 reproduced on earth. The surface is six-month-old asphalt concrete. Note the shadows of rocks placed by the photographer at upper right and the shadows of the nearby cars.
    Fig. 5 - The same photo as Fig. 4 modified to amplify the contrast. This has the effect of darkening shadows in order to better approximate the stark shadows of the lunar surface. Note the halo around the shadow of the photographer's head.
    Figures 4 and 5 depict a rough reconstruction of Fig. 1, photographed using only sunlight on a reasonably flat and level surface. (It is obvious that the surface in Fig. 1 is neither flat nor level.) The sun elevation was approximately 12°, or approximately 3° higher than at Tranquility Base.

    Fig. 5 has been modified by adjusting the contrast digitally. This artificially amplifies the difference between light and shadow. Because scenes on Earth are also lit by light scattered by the atmosphere, it is impossible to duplicate exactly on Earth using only sunlight the lighting conditions on the moon. This contrast-enhancing technique gives more visual emphasis to shadows cast directly by the sun and de-emphasizes the effect of scattered light. It is not intended to exactly duplicate sunlighting on the moon.

    Notwithstanding the inaccuracy of the approximation, the same optical principles produce a "halo" around the photographer in Fig. 5, for the same reason. The roadway is textured according to normal asphalt concrete construction, and at low sun angles the shadows cast by elements of that texture have a cumulative effect that is increasingly visible as phase angle increases. At a phase angle of 0°, none of those shadows can be seen, and the cumulative effect is that of a zone of increased brilliance.

    It's not just an optical illusion. There actually is more lighting reaching the camera from that part of the surface than from other parts. This is the "zero phase angle effect" which renders the full moon four times brighter than a half moon, as seen from earth.

    The camera is tilted downward in Figs. 4 and 5 more than in Fig. 1. In Fig. 1 the optical axis is at a shallower angle than the illumination angle. In Figs. 4 and 5 the optical axis is deeper than the illumination angle. Nevertheless a reasonably representative set of lines of sight can be correlated between the photos.

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    • #17
      PHOTO ANALYSIS: Earth in the frame
      Fig. 1 -A composition of photographs by Jack White showing the Apollo 17 lunar module and lunar rover with the South Massif mountain in the background. The inset is of Gene Cernan with the same mountain and earth in the background. NASA AS17-147-22527, inset NASA AS17-134-20387)
      In the larger photograph in Fig. 1 no image of the earth appears. But the inset, which shows the same mountain, includes an image of the earth. A portion of the foreground occurs in the inset, allowing us to precisely superimpose these images. The earth should appear in the larger photo, but it does not, proving that they were not taken on the moon. The image of the earth in the inset was obviously added optically later. [Jack White]

      Mr. White has cropped away part of the inset image. The full frame of the inset image appears in Fig. 2. Note in the lower left corner, behind Cernan's PLSS, another section of the South Massif's ridge line.
      Fig. 2 -The full frame of the image appearing inset in Fig. 1 (NASA AS17-134-20387.)
      Because the west slope of the South Massif (at the right in Figs. 1 and 2) is a fairly straight line, and the foreground demarcation is similarly linear, Mr. White's contention that a perfect match can be made with his cropped version of the inset is incorrect. In fact, if the inset is made larger or smaller, it can actually "fit" several places in the larger image. Mr. White has made no attempt to normalize the scale of the two photographs.

      Fortunately with the full image we have another point of correlation which can help us find the correct relative scale. If the full frame of the inset is placed where Mr. White has placed it, the portion of the ridge line at the lower left does not lie anywhere close to the ridge line in the larger photo. This is conclusive evidence that Mr. White's superimposition is not correct.
      Fig. 3 - A more proper superimposition of the two photographs in Fig. 1. (A) the portion of the ridge line lying behind Cernan's PLSS. (B) portions of the terrain which can provide both location and slope, to help correlate both registration and rotation. (C) a prominent feature on the South Massif which is discernible in both photos and provides a sure point of registration. (NASA AS17-147-22527, AS17-134-20387.)
      Fig. 3 shows a more defensible superimposition. We are able to identify certain prominent features in the South Massif and use them as registration aids. Further, we make use of the entire inset frame. The combination of the correlations identified in the caption strongly suggests that this is a more accurate registration of these photos. All visible elements of the ridgeline and the foreground demarcation line up. Since features (A) and both features (B) form a triangle, it is impossible for there to be more than one such correlation. Further, both features (B) and feature (C) -- which by itself provides both collocation and slope -- form a second triangle that establishes a single registrational solution. There is a high degree of confidence in this superimposition.

      The portion of the rotated photograph (AS17-134-20387) that contains the image of the earth is now outside the frame of the photo containing the LM and LRV, confirming that the earth image should not appear in that photograph, and that this does not constitute a point of inconsistency between them.

      Mr. White has had similar problems normalizing the scale of Apollo photographs he compares directly.

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      • #18
        PHOTO ANALYSIS: Kick the bottle
        Fig. 1 - Buzz Aldrin demonstrates locomotion while an object appears to bounce across the lunar surface behind him. (NASA: video downlink 110::14:03, et seq.)
        In the Apollo 11 video you can see someone kicking a soda bottle across the surface behind the astronaut.

        In Fig. 1 Buzz Aldrin is demonstrating various methods of walking on the lunar surface. He walks toward the camera using the typical Apollo astronaut lope. He will later demonstrate the "kangaroo hop". The object, which is more apparent in the video than in these still images, bounces two or three times and then disappears from sight.

        The video can be downloaded from the NASA public affairs office. (MPEG, 8 MB) The frames in Fig. 1 are taken beginning 23 seconds into this clip.

        The object in the frame is not actually a physical object. It is the highlight on Aldrin's visor reflected in a peculiar way inside the television camera lens. As Aldrin lopes across the frame from right to left, the object bounces from left to right reflected through the optical center of the lens. The technical term for this is catadioptrism, but photographers usually call it "ghosting".
        Fig. 2 - The same frames as in Fig. 1 with guide lines to emphasize the reflection. The pink dots represent the visor highlight and the "bottle"; the yellow line joins them. The light blue lines identify the center of the image. (NASA: video downlink 110::14:03, et seq.)
        Fig. 2 illustrates the geometry more closely. In this particular mode of catadioptric reflection, bright spots appear to reflect radially through the center of the image. The diagonal blue lines help locate the center of the photo by connecting the diagonally opposite corners. This will closely approximate the optical axis of the lens. The pink dots are placed on the "bottle" and helmet visor, respectively. The yellow line connects them. Note that the yellow line always passes through the center of the image, and that the pink dots are always equidistant from the optical axis. This is unmistakable evidence of catadioptrism.

        Read more about the Coke bottle story here.

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