Humans first went to the Moon in Apollo missions. To some, the feat seems so farfetched they would rather believe the false notion it was filmed on Earth. To make an in-joke out of it, some films & other media featured the conspiracy theory as a parody.

Flat-Earthers and other believers of the moon hoax conspiracy theory naturally cannot realize that they are being featured as objects of a joke. These parodies spread in their communities as though they are “proof” or “endorsements” of their false belief.

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Digital Scans of Images From the Apollo Missions

Before 2009, Apollo missions images that we saw were scanned from the secondary copies that NASA distributed to research facilities after each mission. Only in 2009 NASA made high-resolution scans from the original films & made them available to the public.

Today, we can still find the older scan results. Flat-Earthers like to find defects in these low-quality scans & use the fact as “evidence” they are just paintings. In reality, they are scanned from the printed photos, which can preserve the texture of the photo paper itself.

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Apollo 8 vs Apollo 11 Earthrise Photos

A hoax in flat-Earth circles claims that Earth in the Earthrise photo taken by Apollo 8 is identical to a similar photo taken by Apollo 11. In reality, they are clearly not identical at all.

It might have been caused by an error by an online source or someone trolling flat-Earthers. However, it demonstrates flat-Earthers’ lack of critical thinking, as it can be easily shown the claim is false by finding the originals from NASA’s image archive.

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Moonlight and Inverse Square Law

Light intensity is inversely proportional to the square of its distance. The light we receive from the Moon increases 50000× if we land there. But so does the Moon’s apparent size, spreading the increase in intensity over a larger area.

Flat-Earthers incorrectly claim the inverse square law means the Moon would be too bright if we land there, and they use the argument to “prove” it is impossible to go to the Moon. In reality, the inverse square law applies to a point source. For a large light source, its change in apparent size must also be considered.

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Buzz Aldrin’s Interview with Conan O’Brien

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In a talk show, Conan O’Brien (the host) incorrectly said that he watched Buzz Aldrin (the guest) landed on the Moon. Buzz corrected him that what Conan saw was just an animation.

Flat-Earthers wrongly use Buzz’s statement as “evidence” that the landing was fake. In reality, Buzz informed Conan that news broadcasts of the landing used animations to give audiences a visual representation of the landing. They did not go to the moon in advance to set up cameras to report the landing.

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Lunar Surface: As Dark As Worn Asphalt

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The lunar surface is as dark as worn asphalt. It appears bright at night because everything else is darker. And in photos, its brightness is only a matter of the camera’s exposure settings.

In photos taken on the Moon, its surface looks dark unlike the Moon at night & flat-Earthers dismiss them as fake. In reality, it is just a matter of camera exposure. We can easily turn worn asphalt to look bright in photos by changing the exposure the same way the lunar surface can look bright or dark in photos.

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Images in Newspaper Coverages of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20th, 1969 & returned to Earth on July 24th. Newspapers reported the landing on tomorrow’s edition, July 21st, 1969, with photos.

Flat-Earthers use the fact that the newspapers already had photos as “evidence” of deception. They claim the images should only be available after July 24th. The explanation is simple. The journalists took the pictures off the live television broadcast of the landing.

In today’s situation, it is analogous to taking a screen capture off a YouTube video, a simple task that even flat-Earthers themselves can accomplish.

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Going Beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

As of 2021, the Apollo missions are the only time humans travel farther than Low Earth Orbit (LEO). After the equipment used by the Apollo missions was decommissioned, no humans had the capability to go beyond LEO, and it remains the case in 2021.

Space agencies said we cannot go beyond LEO and are currently developing the capability. Flat-Earthers interpret it as “proof” we never went to the Moon. In reality, these space agencies were describing the present situation; it does not mean we never previously achieved beyond-LEO human spaceflight. As of 2021, we have the means to deliver beyond LEO, but not humans yet again.

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Cost of the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV)

The Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) cost $38 million, equivalent to $260 million in 2021. Flat-Earthers claim the cost was too much for such a “dune buggy” & use it to discredit the Apollo mission. In reality, the cost was reasonable for such a project.

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Operation Avalanche

Operation Avalanche is a conspiracy thriller film released in 2016. It is of a deconstructive parody genre that assumes as if the Apollo moon landings did not occur and gives a fictional backstory on how secret agents managed to “fake” the moon landings.

Flat-Earthers took footage from the movie, then modified them to make them more convincing, and presented the result as if it is a recently discovered video on how the moon landings were “faked.” The video then spread in flat-Earth communities as a hoax.

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Moon Phase and Earth Phase Relation

The phase of the moon seen from Earth is the opposite of the phase of Earth seen from the moon at the same time. If we see a crescent moon from Earth, then someone on the moon at the same time will see a gibbous Earth, and vice versa.

Flat-Earthers noticed the phase of the moon during an Apollo mission was different from the phase of Earth in photos from the mission. Then they used it to discredit the Moon landing, wrongly assuming both phases should be identical. In reality, the two phases are opposite each other, and they will check out.

Transporting the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle

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The Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) is a battery-powered rover used on the Moon in the last three Apollo missions. Each LRV was carried to the moon folded up in the Lunar Module’s quadrant 1 bay, which was kept open to space.

Flat-Earthers claim the LRV is too large to fit inside the Lunar Module and they use it to dismiss the mission as fake. In reality, the LRV was carried folded up in open cargo space, similar to transporting a bicycle using a bike carrier attached to a car.

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Camera Exposure Settings in the Apollo Missions

Cameras used by Apollo astronauts were equipped with ASA 160 film (equivalent ISO 160 in digital cameras). And they were instructed to use the following camera exposure values: shutter speed 1/250s, aperture f/5.6 (in shadow), and f/11 (sunlit). We can try the same values to everyday scenes and see how they end up in the results.

Stars are not visible in the photos from the Apollo missions, and flat-Earthers use the fact to dismiss them as fake. In reality, by using the same exposure settings as the astronauts used, we cannot get the stars to appear either. Therefore, there is no reason to expect stars to appear in photographs taken by Apollo astronauts.

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Shadows in Photographs Taken on the Moon

Flat-Earthers and other conspiracy theorists incorrectly claim that the shadows in photos taken on the Moon in the Apollo missions are inconsistent. In reality, it is just due to their confirmation biases, and we can easily explain how the shadows were formed.

The perspective effect can cause parallel shadows to appear angled to each other and converge to a distant point. Conspiracy theorists incorrectly claim that non-parallel shadows can only be caused by a nearby light source.

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Sound in Space

Sound wave requires medium to propagate. There is no air in space, and therefore, sound cannot travel over space. However, in some cases, sound and vibration can still travel over solid objects —like spacecraft or spacesuits— that exist in space.

In some videos taken in space, things that occur in a vacuum can be heard, and flat-Earthers use it to discredit spaceflight. In reality, 1. sound can still travel over solid spacesuits and spacecraft, 2. vibrations can cause noise in microphones, 3. there is air inside spacesuits and many spacecraft, 4. the sound was heard over the radio communication system, and not directly over space.

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Earthrise is a photograph of Earth that was taken from lunar orbit by William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission. It was taken just after Earth rises from behind the Moon.

From Earth, the Moon always shows the same face, and from a location on the Moon facing Earth, it is impossible to see Earth rising. Flat-Earthers use it to reject the Earthrise as fake. In reality, the photo was not taken from the lunar surface, but from the lunar orbit. Apollo 8 did not even land on the Moon.

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“Moontruth” Prank Video

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In 2002, the advertising company Viral Factory filmed the “moontruth” video, which is a prank showing an “outtake” from the supposed faking of the “one small step” scene. The video shows “Neil Armstrong” (played by an actor) being interrupted by a falling studio light.

Flat-Earthers and other conspiracy theorists failed to realize that the video was just a viral prank video. It spreads in conspiracy theory circles as if it “proves” that the Apollo moon landing was faked.

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Communication Delays in Apollo Mission & The Direction of Conversation

Radio waves travel at the speed of light. In Apollo missions, after Houston said something, the response from the Moon arrived after 2½ seconds. But no delay occurred when Houston replied to the astronauts because the conversation was recorded on Earth.

Flat-Earthers use the lack of delay when Houston (and President Nixon) replied to the astronauts to discredit the Apollo missions. In reality, they cannot understand how the recording’s location and the direction of the conversation affected the delay in the recording.

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Making-of or Behind-the-Scenes

In cinema, a making-of or behind-the-scenes is a documentary featuring the production of a film. It describes how the scenes in a movie were created. Some trolls took footage from the behind-the-scenes of various space movies and present them to flat-Earthers as though it is how space agencies “faked” their videos.

Flat-Earthers fail to realize that these footage were just behind-the-scenes of space movies and unrelated to the actual space footage from space agencies. These spread as hoaxes in flat-Earth circles.

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Frame of Reference

A frame of reference consists of an abstract coordinate system and physical reference points that uniquely fix the coordinate system and standardize measurements. Speed or velocity is relative to a specific frame of reference. It is possible that two speeds/velocities are measured relative to a different frame of reference and thus cannot be directly compared.

Flat-Earthers like to compare two different speed measurements like an airplane moving at 900 km/h (560 mph) and Earth’s surface near the equator at 1674 km/h (1040 mph). They would conclude the airplane should not be able to catch up with Earth’s surface and would not land if the Earth is rotating. In reality, both the speeds are measured relative to a different frame of reference, and therefore, cannot be compared directly.

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