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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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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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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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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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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Seeing Stars in Space

Stars are dim. We can only see them if our eyes are adapted for low light. Astronauts in space can see the stars when the sun is blocked from view and avoid seeing any large sunlit objects.

Some astronauts said they did not notice the stars, but others claim they could see them. Flat-Earthers use the conflicting statements to discredit spaceflight. In reality, sometimes astronauts can see the stars, and sometimes cannot, just like us on the ground, depending on the situation.

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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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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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Five Photos of Neil Armstrong on the Moon

Neil Armstrong was the lead photographer on the Apollo 11 mission, and he could not be in the photos he was taking. Out of 1266 photos from the Apollo 11 mission, only five good photos of Neil were taken while Apollo 11 operated on the surface of the Moon.

Some memes humorously compare the total of five photos of Neil on the Moon to the number of selfies some ladies take in the bathroom. Flat-Earthers took them too seriously, and these became a hoax claiming that Apollo 11 brought back only five photos.

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Images of the Apollo Moon Landing Sites Taken By LRO

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a spacecraft orbiting the Moon. It is equipped with a high-resolution camera that has captured photographs of Apollo landing sites.

We often observe flat-Earthers demanding NASA to prove the Apollo missions with recent photos of the landing sites, and NASA has provided just that. However, this too will not be enough for them to accept that the Apollo missions did occur.

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The Missing Apollo 11 Telemetry Tapes

NASA lost the telemetry tapes containing the recording of the raw video data transmitted by the Apollo 11 mission. However, all the data was also safely recorded elsewhere.

Flat-Earthers make a big deal out of this incident to discredit the Apollo mission. In reality:

  1. The only lost data was the raw video before the conversion to NTSC for TV broadcasting.
  2. Only the raw data was lost, but there are other recordings of the same footage.
  3. Apollo missions other than Apollo 11 were not affected.
  4. There is no lost video that has never been seen.
  5. NASA discovered high-quality recordings of the same video.

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Apollo Lunar Module Insulation Blankets

The Apollo Lunar Module needed to be as light as possible. It would also operate only in a vacuum and did not have to be sturdy or aerodynamic. To reduce weight, its hull was covered with various insulation blankets instead of rigid heat shields.

Flat-Earthers often ridicule the shape of the lunar module of being flimsy. In reality, there is no requirement to look pretty. The flimsy-looking things are just the insulation blankets. The actual hull underneath them provides structural support.

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Zooming at the Moon

At the longest zoom, the Nikon P1000 has a field of view of 0.2°, which is equivalent to 1342 km at the Moon’s distance.

Flat-Earthers zoomed their Nikon P1000 at the Moon and claimed that they could not find flags and landers from the Apollo missions. In reality, the smallest objects on the lunar surface they can observe using their cameras are large city-sized objects.

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Communication Delays in Apollo Missions

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Radio waves travel at the speed of light; it takes 1¼ seconds to cover Earth-Moon distance. It is the reason in the Apollo missions after Houston says something, the response from the astronauts on the Moon will arrive only after 2½ seconds.

Some presentations of the Apollo missions are edited to cut out the gaps created by the delay, and flat-Earthers use them to dismiss the Apollo missions as fake. However, in the actual audio recordings and the transcripts, the delays are there.

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Wikileaks Video Hoax

Someone created a fake video showing the “fabrication” of the Apollo moon landings. It claims to be from Wikileaks, complete with its logo, a photo of Julian Assange, and various video effects for a semblance of authenticity. In reality, the video was taken from behind the scenes clips of the movie Capricorn One.

Wikileaks’ official website does not have the video, and the video is only available from dubious sources. It is not difficult to know the video is a blatant fake. However, flat-Earthers failed to recognize it is a fake, and the fake video spread in their communities as a hoax.

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Weightlessness, Free Fall, and Microgravity

In orbit, objects are weightless because both the objects and the spacecraft have the same speed and direction, and both are affected by the same gravitational influence. We use the spacecraft as the frame of reference. Because the objects are not in motion relative to the spacecraft, they appear to float.

In Earth orbit, the objects are still affected by Earth’s gravity, but yet they float. Flat-Earthers use it to disprove spaceflight. In reality, the objects float because we are using the spacecraft as the frame of reference, which is also moving by the same amount and is affected by the same gravity as the objects themselves.

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