Exposing PseudoAstronomy

December 10, 2008

The Apollo Moon Hoax: How Could the Astronauts Take So Many Photographs?


Introduction

This is another, fairly short, entry into my ongoing series about the Apollo Moon “Hoax” – whether or not NASA really sent astronauts successfully to the moon. The purpose of this post is to address the claim by hoax proponents that the number of photographs returned was way too many for the astronauts to have taken, and so they must be fake.

All posts in this series:

The Facts

On each Apollo mission, there were 3 astronauts. One would stay in the command module (CM) that orbited the moon. Two would descend in the lunar excursion module (LEM) and land on the moon, then return to the CM.

There were 6 successful Apollo missions that comprised a total of 4834 minutes on the moon and took 5771 photographs (the following data is assumed to at least be mostly accurate, though it is taken from a pro-hoax site):

  • Apollo 11 ~ 151 minutes
  • Apollo 12 ~ 470 minutes
  • Apollo 14 ~ 565 minutes
  • Apollo 15 ~ 1110 minutes
  • Apollo 16 ~ 1214 minutes
  • Apollo 17 ~ 1324 minutes

Simple division shows that, with 5771 photographs in 4834 minutes, that they must have taken 1.19 photos per minute, or one photo every 50 seconds. The hoax claim then goes that, with all the other experiments (especially sample return and setting up retroreflectors and seismology equipment), there’s no way this is possible.

Why This Claim Is Faulty

To say that this claim employs faulty reasoning is fairly generous. First off, it employs bad math. Remember … there were two astronauts that were taking pictures! So now we have one photograph per astronaut every 100 seconds. This now makes it seem much less silly.

But let’s go further. This is a case where what’s going on can easily be explained by common sense. Think of your last vacation. If you didn’t have a camera, then think back to someone in your group who did. For me, it was a trip to Italy just 2 weeks ago (which is why I haven’t had many posts in the last few weeks).

On the trip, which I went on with my parents and joined my brother who was already there, we went to a different sight-seeing place every day in the area of the city of Turin. We spent probably 2-4 hrs a day sight-seeing. During that time, I took around 400 photos. Days that I actually had my camera with me were 3. Take 3 hrs times 3 days is 540 minutes. Divide by 400 and I took a photo every 81 seconds. How could I possibly have done anything else!?

The answer (duh) is that I took many photos at once from one location, then walked around and did other stuff, and then took a lot more photos from another location. Often these included up to 30+ photographs per minute when I was taking panoramas. Once you realize this, and take in the actual practicalities of taking pictures when you go someplace, 1 photo every 100 seconds seems like much less of a fantastic feat.

But wait, there’s more! When taking my photos in Turin, I spent a fair amount of time at the beginning of each shot setting it up – figuring out aperture and shutter speed. The Apollo astronauts did not. They knew what to expect for lighting conditions, and they generally used a small aperture (to permit a large depth-of-field). Without weather or an atmosphere to complicate things, they really didn’t need to spend much time – if any – figuring out what shutter speed to use. And for aiming, they used wide-angle lenses and so just pointed their bodies where they wanted to aim.

Wrap-Up

The idea that the astronauts could not have taken a photograph every 50 seconds while on the moon while still doing other things completely ignores 3 things: (1) There were two astronauts to take photos; (2) many photographs were taken from the same location of the same thing or as panoramas, allowing them to be taken in rapid succession; and (3) the astronauts didn’t need much set-up time in determining photograph composition nor exposure settings, as the settings were figured out experimentally before the mission.

46 Comments »

  1. The Hoax Believers also like to list all the minutes given for accomplishing various surface tasks, and subtract that from the total surface time, before dividing the photographs taken into the remainder. The chief error here is — documentation was part of those tasks, and part of the task estimations. If the estimate is “40 minutes to get the Rover ready for use,” then that includes whatever time is necessary for one or both astronauts to take pictures of the procedure as they go.

    Comment by nomuse — January 20, 2009 @ 1:19 am | Reply

  2. How many photos is that per camera and how many pictures are there on a ‘cassette’ of film. Did they change film cassettes whilst on the moon?

    Comment by Mick — July 2, 2009 @ 6:46 am | Reply

    • Yes, they did, in a way.

      They used specially modified versions of Hasselblad medium format cameras, which used more or less the same type of removeable film backs as the conventional Hasselblad models – you pre-load the film backs, then simply insert and remove a dark slide and change the film back while in action. The major modifications to the lunar versions were improved dust seals, larger controls more suitable for operation with heavy gloves, different lens coatings on the primary lens element (the one on the front – internal and rear lens elements were the same) and the bulk film backs were semi-permanently attached to the cameras instead of the typical one or two second manual changeout on earth.

      With the regular Hasselblad film backs on earth, you had two main benefits: In the studio, this let you change film types (color neg to B&W to slide, for example) more or less on the fly, without running through the whole roll of film. In the field, this made for rapid film changes without handling 120 or 220 roll film. On the moon, the same benefit, except the film backs didn’t use standard 120 or 220 roll film, they used longer continuous rolls which gave several hundred exposures, and the film backs semi-permanently attached to the camera bodies used during EVAs.

      The bulk film back setup was available at the time for terrestrial use (without the semi-permanent attachment mod for lunar use) – they were just heavy and clunky, which made hand-held use on earth very difficult due to the weight. Changing them out by hand was also more difficult due to the weight, bulk and balance, hence the attachment modification for lunar use.

      With the lower gravity on the moon, weight and balance wasn’t an issue, and this modification gave several hundred exposures per “roll” of film, with the benefits of no possibility of dust, scratches to the shutter or film transport, dropping film backs, or accidental exposure of used film. There were also versions which used smaller roll film backs for specialty use – i.e. the later UV photos.

      The Apollo astronauts didn’t actually handle film changes while on EVAs. When a camera/film back combo was used up or close to used up at the end of an EVA, they simply used an additional camera/film back.

      This approach makes complete sense from an engineering and mission planning standpoint. The cost was trivial on the scale of the total program costs, the added weight and space was reasonable, and the two things you couldn’t do on the moon were buy a new camera if yours didn’t work, or shoot retakes. Redundancy and survivability were the critical factors. Virtually nothing in the lunar missions was spontaneous, so pre-planning the number of cameras, film types and number of exposures available for each film type was just one more aspect of mission planning.

      Comment by Michael — July 18, 2009 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

      • I am a retired photographer who used Hasselblad ELM for thousands of hours work……If I were wearing a space suit and my camera was mounted on my chest, it would be very difficult to change the film backs…..also, the temperature of the film would be critical……how would you protect additional backs from radiation and temperature? The aluminum anodized metal would not hold up to those discretionary conditions. The lenses were 60mm and 80 mm as listed on Hasselblad’s site. I own both of those lenses and I’m very experienced in their use. The shutter speed was fixed at 250th/sec, whereas the f stop settings were either 5.6 or 11,,,,not a lot of bracketing going on. ALL controls were manual and required hand movement, as was the ELM shutter button which also makes the iconic image of the astronaut reflection in the helmet interesting….the person taking the picture had both hands down…..a 250th of a second shutter speed would not allow his hands to return to his sides in time for the actual exposure…a difficult thing to understand. Film after exposure would have to be placed in a radiation temp controlled container immediately as the vacuum of space would effect the film. I have additional problems with focus points, the markers on the Hasselblad a glass plate with engraved grid-aligned crosses (Reseau plate) fitted close to the film plane. I myself have used these……they cannot be behind an image….there are a number of images where this happens…..that’s impossible. The bodies were silver, the lenses black….no perceptible difference than my own camera’s 60mm. All images were well framed and without a viewfinder, even I with 40plus years experience with that exact camera could not produce. The focus and composition was blind to the operator.
        I could add more, but you understand where I’m going with this. My understanding is that bulk film was used…9 magazines in total. Which tells me by your account that they had nine cameras…..they didn’t….they had 13, all of which were left on the LM.

        Comment by John Asumendi — September 19, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

  3. Regarding the claim all photos are perfect. This one doesn’t look very perfect:

    http://www.apolloarchive.com/apg_thumbnail.php?ptr=317&imageID=AS14-68-9422

    Comment by mindmetoo — July 3, 2009 @ 7:54 am | Reply

  4. Mick – Yes, to my knowledge, cassettes were changed on the moon. However, I have no idea how many pictures were on each, nor how many they went through, and I could not find that information readily available in a quick search.

    Karl – Yep, that’s a good example of a pretty bad photo. That apolloarchive.com site is the one that I use, too, and after just spending a few minutes browsing it, one can see that there are plenty examples of poor photos with (a) lens flares, (b) ghosting, (c) no subject, or combinations of the above.

    Comment by astrostu206265 — July 6, 2009 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  5. Very nice points. I’m gonna have to fave this blog.

    Comment by sasracer — July 18, 2009 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  6. COPY found on website:

    I visited several official NASA websites to find HOW MANY PHOTOS WERE TAKEN on the surface of the Moon. Amazingly, NASA AVOIDS THIS SUBJECT almost entirely. Two days of searching documents and text were fruitless. But Lunar Surface Journal, one of the sites, lists every photo with its file number. So I undertook to make an actual count of every photo taken by astronauts DURING EXTRA-VEHICULAR ACTIVITY (EVA), the time spent on the surface out of the LEM.

    Here is my actual count of EVA photos of the six missions:

    Apollo 11……….. 121
    Apollo 12……….. 504
    Apollo 14……….. 374
    Apollo 15……….1021
    Apollo 16……….1765
    Apollo 17……….1986

    So 12 astronauts while on the Moon’s surface took a TOTAL of 5771 exposures.

    That seemed excessively large to me, considering that their TIME on the lunar surface was limited, and the astronauts had MANY OTHER TASKS OTHER THAN PHOTOGRAPHY. So I returned to the Lunar Surface Journal to find how much TIME was available to do all the scientific tasks AS WELL AS PHOTOGRAPHY. Unlike the number of photos, this information is readily available:

    Apollo 11……..1 EVA …..2 hours, 31 minutes……(151 minutes)
    Apollo 12……..2 EVAs…..7 hours, 50 minutes……(470 minutes)
    Apollo 14……..2 EVAs…..9 hours, 25 minutes……(565 minutes)
    Apollo 15……..3 EVAs…18 hours, 30 minutes….(1110 minutes)
    Apollo 16……..3 EVAs…20 hours, 14 minutes….(1214 minutes)
    Apollo 17……..3 EVAs…22 hours, 04 minutes….(1324 minutes)

    Total minutes on the Moon amounted to 4834 minutes.
    Total number of photographs taken was 5771 photos.

    Hmmmmm. That amounts to 1.19 photos taken EVERY MINUTE of time on the Moon, REGARDLESS OF OTHER ACTIVITIES. (That requires the taking of ONE PHOTO EVERY 50 SECONDS!) Let’s look at those other activities to see how much time should be deducted from available photo time:

    Apollo 11……….Inspect LEM for damage, deploy flag, unpack and deploy radio and television equipment, operate the TV camera (360 degree pan), establish contact with Earth (including ceremonial talk with President Nixon), unpack and deploy numerous experiment packages, find/document/collect 47.7 pounds of lunar rock samples, walk to various locations, conclude experiments, return to LEM.

    Apollo 12……….Inspect LEM for damage, deploy flag, unpack and deploy radio and television equipment (spend time trying to fix faulty TV camera), establish contact with Earth, unpack and deploy numerous experiment packages, walk to various locations, inspect the unmanned Surveyor 3 which had landed on the Moon in April 1967 and retrieve Surveyor parts. Deploy ALSEP package. Find/document/collect 75.7 pounds of rocks, conclude experiments, return to LEM.

    Apollo 14……….Inspect LEM for damage, deploy flag, unpack and deploy radio and television equipment and establish contact with Earth, unpack and assemble hand cart to transport rocks, unpack and deploy numerous experiment packages, walk to various locations. Find/document/collect 94.4 pounds of rocks, conclude experiments, return to LEM.

    Apollo 15……….Inspect LEM for damage, deploy flag, unpack and deploy radio and television equipment and establish contact with Earth, unpack/assemble/equip and test the LRV electric-powered 4-wheel drive car and drive it 17 miles, unpack and deploy numerous experiment packages (double the scientific payload of first three missions). Find/document/collect 169 pounds of rocks, conclude experiments, return to LEM. (The LRV travels only 8 mph*.)

    Apollo 16……….Inspect LEM for damage, deploy flag, unpack and deploy radio and television equipment and establish contact with Earth, unpack/assemble/equip and test the LRV electric-powered 4-wheel drive car and drive it 16 miles, unpack and deploy numerous experiment packages (double the scientific payload of first three missions, including new ultraviolet camera, operate the UV camera). Find/document/collect 208.3 pounds of rocks, conclude experiments, return to LEM. (The LRV travels only 8 mph*.)

    Apollo 17……….Inspect LEM for damage, deploy flag, unpack and deploy radio and television equipment and establish contact with Earth, unpack/assemble/equip and test the LRV electric-powered 4-wheel drive car and drive it 30.5 miles, unpack and deploy numerous experiment packages. Find/document/collect 243.1 pounds of rocks, conclude experiments, return to LEM. (The LRV travels only 8 mph*.)

    Let’s arbitrarily calculate a MINIMUM time for these tasks and subtract from available photo time:

    Apollo 11….subtract 2 hours (120 minutes), leaving 031 minutes for taking photos
    Apollo 12….subtract 4 hours (240 minutes), leaving 230 minutes for taking photos
    Apollo 14….subtract 3 hours (180 minutes), leaving 385 minutes for taking photos
    Apollo 15….subtract 6 hours (360 minutes), leaving 750 minutes for taking photos
    Apollo 16….subtract 6 hours (360 minutes), leaving 854 minutes for taking photos
    Apollo 17….subtract 8 hours (480 minutes), leaving 844 minutes for taking photos

    So do the math:

    Apollo 11…….121 photos in 031 minutes…………3.90 photos per minute
    Apollo 12…….504 photos in 230 minutes…………2.19 photos per minute
    Apollo 14…….374 photos in 385 minutes…………0.97 photos per minute
    Apollo 15…..1021 photos in 750 minutes…………1.36 photos per minute
    Apollo 16…..1765 photos in 854 minutes ………..2.06 photos per minute
    Apollo 17…..1986 photos in 844 minutes ………..2.35 photos per minute

    Or, to put it more simply:

    Apollo 11……..one photo every 15 seconds
    Apollo 12……..one photo every 27 seconds
    Apollo 14……..one photo every 62 seconds
    Apollo 15……..one photo every 44 seconds
    Apollo 16……..one photo every 29 seconds
    Apollo 17……..one photo every 26 seconds

    So you decide. Given all the facts, was it possible to take that many photos in so short a time?

    Any professional photographer will tell you it cannot be done. Virtually every photo was a different scene or in a different place, requiring travel. As much as 30 miles travel was required to reach some of the photo sites. Extra care had to be taken shooting some stereo pairs and panoramas. Each picture was taken without a viewfinder, using manual camera settings, with no automatic metering, while wearing a bulky spacesuit and stiff clumsy gloves.

    The agency wants the world to believe that 5771 photographs were taken in 4834 minutes! IF NOTHING BUT PHOTOGRAPHY HAD BEEN DONE, such a feat is clearly impossible…made even more so by all the documented activities of the astronauts. Imagine…1.19 photos every minute that men were on the Moon –- that’s one picture every 50 SECONDS!

    The secret NASA tried to hide has been discovered: The quantity of photos purporting to record the Apollo lunar EVAs could not have been taken on the Moon in such an impossible time frame. So why do these photos exist? How did these photos get made? Did ANY men go to the Moon? Or was it truly the greatest hoax ever?

    Comment by Dick — July 21, 2009 @ 6:46 am | Reply

    • Dick, I’m not going to address every single point that the person you quoted but did not give attribution to stated. This is for two simple facts. First, I already address this and several of the other points you raise in my various posts. Second, they are stating unsupported ideas and factual errors, as mindmetoo mentioned below.

      For example:

      (1) There were two astronauts, so already you can double the time between photos.

      (2) I am reasonably close to a professional photographer (as in I’ve been paid for my photography services, but I do not count on it for my primary income). And I can easily say that it can easily be done. Even when I used film, I could snap off at least 1 photo every second if I wanted to take a picture of a random scene just to document that I was there.

      (3) The places that they traveled were to do experiments, not just take photos and then do experiments elsewhere. Only weirdos like me take trips to places just to do photography.

      (4) Stereo pairs: Point, click, step to the side, click, done. Panoramas: Point, click, rotate, click, rotate, click, rotate, click, … done. This does not require extraordiary “extra care” to do.

      (5) Hence, as I have argued and, well, ANY PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER will tell you, it is very possible to have 2 people take a total of 5771 photographs in 4834 minutes if they are just doing photos and nothing else. In fact, if it takes them longer, you need to get a new photographer. Ask ANY wedding photographer how many pictures they take during formals and a 1-hour ceremony.

      (6) There’s video. You can see how long it took to do things that the original author mentioned. And the time they think it took is very over-estimated, especially when keeping in mind that there were TWO astronauts on the surface.

      Comment by astrostu206265 — July 21, 2009 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

      • “(1) There were two astronauts, so already you can double the time between photos.”
        This may be true for some of the missions, but look at Apollo 11, there seems to be only one photo of Neil. So are we to assume that Buzz was too busy taking all the scenic photos to get a bunch of shots with the first person to set foot on the moon? Nonsense. To top it off, most of the shots we have of Buzz, doesn’t show buzz using his camera. So it would seem, that both astronauts were not taking photos most of the time.

        “(2) I am reasonably close to a professional photographer (as in I’ve been paid for my photography services, but I do not count on it for my primary income). And I can easily say that it can easily be done. Even when I used film, I could snap off at least 1 photo every second if I wanted to take a picture of a random scene just to document that I was there.”
        I can’t refute this as it’s different circumstances between you taking pictures here on earth with a camera that is easy to manipulate, not sure how you would do with a slightly modified Hasselblad (not even sure if this is true as I’ve seen interviews with the company that said they were not specially monified for use on the moon) but if the controls were modified, they were not obviously so, it seems like NASA is just making claims, where are the photos of these modifications? The would have to be substantial in order to manipulate with gloves that are pressurized to a little over 5psi as you can only manipulate objects 1″ and over with the suits pressurized.

        ‘(3) The places that they traveled were to do experiments, not just take photos and then do experiments elsewhere. Only weirdos like me take trips to places just to do photography.”
        There should be photos of all the experiments set ups, and keep in mind that if one astronaut is setting up experiments, he can’t be snapping photos at the same time unless he keeps taking breaks and thus extending the time of the experiment. How long did it take to unpack and set up the rover? Is there photos of this entire process? Taken by both astronauts or only one? How about the flag, how long to unpack and setup and how many photos are there of this process?

        “(4) Stereo pairs: Point, click, step to the side, click, done. Panoramas: Point, click, rotate, click, rotate, click, rotate, click, … done. This does not require extraordiary “extra care” to do.”
        The panoramas even add to the obsurdity, how to they turn out so well with no view finder, the astronauts couldn’t even look down at the camera and would have had to remove it from chest in order to use the sight properly.

        ‘(5) Hence, as I have argued and, well, ANY PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER will tell you, it is very possible to have 2 people take a total of 5771 photographs in 4834 minutes if they are just doing photos and nothing else. In fact, if it takes them longer, you need to get a new photographer. Ask ANY wedding photographer how many pictures they take during formals and a 1-hour ceremony.”
        give the photographers spacesuits pressurized to 5psi and replica Hasselblad’s and also have them take part in ceremony to simulate the time taken up by setting up experiments and unpacking equipment and get back to us.

        ‘(6) There’s video. You can see how long it took to do things that the original author mentioned. And the time they think it took is very over-estimated, especially when keeping in mind that there were TWO astronauts on the surface.”
        Again, two astronauts were simply not taking photos most of the time, or there would be plenty of pics with both astronauts, even pics of each astronaut in the process of taking pics. Yet, most of the pics are more like portraits.

        Comment by anonymous — January 8, 2014 @ 8:28 am

      • Those who believe the lies by NASA want you to believe that the astronauts were expert photographers (I guess that is a requirement to becoming an astronaut; the job description by NASA probably said “must be an expert in photography!”). Let’s say we believe that the astronauts took over 5000 pictures AND took them so expertly despite not being able to look through a camera viewfinder to take the picture, it still leaves the question of how the film did not get exposed to radiation when it was being changed by the astronauts or while it was in the camera. NASA states the camera was unmodified with no lead lining and the moon’s surface is highly radioactive.

        Even if we are to believe that the radiation is not dangerous to humans walking unprotected on the moon’s surface (spacesuits are not protection to high levels of radiation which is present on the moon), surely this radiation is high enough to ruin any photography film or camera equipment. Kodak said the film was just ordinary kodachrome the same kind used here on earth. The film wasn’t affected at all by radiation levels that HAD to be higher than background radiation found on earth?

        The astronauts were wearing pressurized (they should be) spacesuits so they can live in a vacuum environment yet they were able to have the dexterity in their fingers to operate and focus the camera? if the camera had huge big buttons and all the user had to do was press it with a finger or two then i could see how it would be easy for them to take photos. What I don’t understand is why others with even an ounce of intelligence aren’t asking these questions because NASA hasn’t given a clear answer. NASA also needs to prove that the radiation on the moon will not destroy or damage the film used on the moon.

        It would be simple to do an experiment in a radioactive chamber and have a technician wearing radiation protection snap a few pictures with the same kind of camera used on the Apollo Missions. I still believe that Van Allen’s original data was accurate and his later statement that the Belts aren’t dangerous was most likey as a result of pressure/threats/intimidation from/by NASA or they bribed Van Allen to revise his previous findings. What i wonder is, if the radiation in the Belts as well as beyond the belts is nothing to worry about then why not continue missions to the moon which I realize that question has been asked for so long and so many times now. In addition, if the Van Allen Belt radiation is harmless then why did the US Government detonate a nuclear weapon in the 50’s to try to punch a hole in it? Wouldn’t rational thinking be to leave it alone since it isn’t a threat?

        Comment by Cody Nundy — November 25, 2016 @ 12:58 am

  7. Dick, I’m wondering how the author of what you posted arrived at the conclusion it took x amount of time to do all the tasks you claimed, other than guessing. And like Stuart notes, did the author take into account there are two people. While one person is doing x, the other person is taking photos.

    Comment by mindmetoo — July 21, 2009 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  8. This is also one of the sillier claims. I remember once a friend’s ex GF invited me to spend the Canada day long weekend with her in Edmonton. She was a friend also and there was no hanky panky involved but my male friend probably wouldn’t be too thrilled if I was going to visit his ex. He’d likely assume I was going there to bang her. Anyway, I told my male friend I was going to Houston for the weekend to visit a woman he knew I had romantic interest in.

    When I returned, he asked if I had any photos of Houston. Errr. Now my dodge was not to find and fake 5431 photos of Houston and give them to him as proof I went to Houston. I claimed “you know I really didn’t have a lot of time to take errr touristy photos nudge nudge” *insert sounds of rusty bed springs squeaking*

    It seems to me “our boys were a little busy with science stuff to take 5431 holiday photos” would be a great cover and NASA could release a few dozen perfectly staged photos, you know with the shadows all going the right way and the flag in proper shadow and all the other crap hoaxers say should be really seen on those photos. You know “reality”. Right?

    Comment by Karl — July 22, 2009 @ 6:25 am | Reply

  9. hmmm, great post

    Comment by Rigmagaus — July 25, 2009 @ 2:29 am | Reply

  10. I was about to mention stereo pairs but I see someone else already did. There were MANY stereo pairs, just as there were many panoramas. Most of them were scheduled in the flight plans, which you can read at the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

    On the later J-missions (Apollos 15-17) they also carried a Hasselblad with a long 500 mm lens for taking closeup pans of the nearby mountain ranges. Because of the narrow view angle, that also used up quite a bit of film. This camera is obvious on video, not only because of the length of the lens but also because the astronauts had to raise it to their faces to sight along it more accurately.

    Comment by Phil Karn — February 18, 2010 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  11. Don’t ya think it’s a tad different taking pictures in plain clothes on earth and with a canister-less digital camera than trying to take them in spacesuits on the moon with bulky gloves. How did they reload the massive amount of film it must have taken? I’ve never seen them taking any pictures or reloading film in the videos.

    Comment by Adam Bruss — February 13, 2011 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

    • All the answers to your questions are easily found with just a little research. The cameras were modified Hasselblad EL-500s with motor drive. Push the button and take a picture. Push the button again and take another picture. It was as easy as that, even in pressurized gloves.

      These cameras used detachable 70mm film magazines that could also be easily changed while wearing gloves. Look in the archives and you’ll see groups of pictures that are partially or completely light fogged, or taken while pointing at the ground or at an arm. Those are the frames they clicked off at the beginning or end of a magazine as they were changed.

      They shot a variety of film types, but the most common for daylight photography was a medium speed Kodak Ektachrome color slide film that used a special thin base so each magazine could hold more pictures. They also used black and white film extensively on the lunar surface as it has very little color anyway and B&W film provides better resolution than color.

      Comment by Phil — February 14, 2011 @ 8:56 am | Reply

  12. Apollo 17……..one photo every 26 seconds (one astronaut taking pictuers)

    Apollo 17……..one photo every 52 seconds (two astronauts taking pictuers)

    Hours of Apollo 17 video shows that the astronauts didn’t take that much pictures.

    Comment by Luke Khan — May 22, 2011 @ 11:34 pm | Reply

    • Here’s a thought: 10 photos by 2 astronauts in 10 seconds, then they have 10 minutes to do other stuff.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — May 23, 2011 @ 12:06 am | Reply

    • What do you mean “Hours of Apollo 17 video shows that the astronauts didn’t take that much pictures.” [sic]

      I saw much of Apollo 17 as it happened. Just as I saw much of the earlier missions as they happened. In every one of them they seemed to be taking pictures almost constantly. They just didn’t call out every picture as they took it, though if you listen attentively you will hear them reading magazine identifiers and frame numbers down to the Capcom. That should give you plenty of idea as to how many they took during each phase of each EVA.

      Comment by Phil Karn — May 23, 2011 @ 1:25 am | Reply

  13. What do you mean “In every one of them they seemed to be taking pictures almost constantly”

    Google videos about 2,910 results on “Apollo 17”

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=+%22Apollo+17%22&tbm=vid&tbo=p&source=vgc&num=100

    Do they take pictures constantly ? No!

    Comment by Luke Khan — May 23, 2011 @ 2:40 am | Reply

    • Check out the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal for Apollo 17 (or any other landing mission, for that matter). Each Journal consists of an extremely detailed annotated transcript of each EVA, with links to each picture at the time it was taken. (The film cameras didn’t record timestamps like modern digital cameras so some of the time placements are necessarily approximate.)

      I’d say these transcripts show they took pictures almost constantly. It was easy to do since they each usually had the camera mounted on the chest. All they had to do was reach up and push a button.

      Comment by Phil Karn — May 23, 2011 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  14. […] The Apollo Moon Hoax: How Could the Astronauts Take So Many … Dec 10, 2008 … Remember … there were two astronauts that were taking pictures! So now we have one photograph per … […]

    Pingback by Therein » Blog Archive » pictures of astronots — June 12, 2011 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  15. Typical nonsense. Nice to compare your vacation on Earth to the moon where conditions were slightly complicated. Your comparison is typical nonsense. Hey what’s that? The film sprocketed film didn’t melt or freeze in the camera?
    Wow, must of been a mild day on the moon.
    What is the temperature on the moon anyway?
    How hot or cold can film work at? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Joe

    Comment by Joe Rizoli — September 7, 2012 @ 12:17 am | Reply

    • Joe, go read up on “heat transfer in vacuum” and you’ll have your answers as to how the cameras functioned just fine on the moon.

      Comment by Phil — September 7, 2012 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

    • Joe, on the moon Apollo mainly used 70mm Kodak film with an Estar (polyester) base. According to Kodak, at 100 C (212 F, the boiling point of water) Estar can shrink up to 0.15%, stabilizing in 24 hrs. Damage doesn’t really start until 130C, with actual melting at 255C (490F). Color photography used an Ektachrome reversal (slide-type) film. Black-and-white film was also used because it gave greater resolution (and there’s not much color on the moon anyway).

      The motor-driven Hasselblad 500ELC lunar surface cameras were specially modified for Apollo. Large shutter release buttons were provided to make them easy to use with suit gloves. Tabs were added to the shutter speed, focusing and f-stop dials for the same reason. A moderately wide-angle 60mm lens was used to make focusing and pointing less critical. The viewfinder, mirror and secondary shutter were removed, which also sped up picture taking; they could cycle in less than 1 second. A silver finish was used specifically to control temperature. A “reseau plate” with etched crosses at 1 cm spacings was added specifically to allow later correction for any film shrinkage or distortion that might result from the temperature extremes. No light meter was required because, without an atmosphere or clouds the intensity of sunlight on the moon is well known and constant.

      Comment by Phil — September 7, 2012 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  16. Besides the huge amount of photos lacking a single artifact from the ionizing radiation that destroys Kodak film in 5 minutes at 1/10 the level of that radiating everything beyond our protective magnetosphere I always wondered how the lunar lander managed to rocket back up to the 3500+ MPH required to dock with the orbiter? A space craft needs to travel at least 3500mph to orbit the moon, any slower and the moons gravity will drag it down to the surface as the moon has 1/5th earths gravity and a craft needs to travel at 17,500MPH to orbit the earth. Since the lunar lander was somehow pan filmed wobbling straight up as if on a string with no rocket exhaust I always wondered how it managed to transition to the 3500MPH horizontal trajectory required to avoid being destroyed by the orbiter whizzing around the moon at the 3500MPH required to maintain a stable orbit. The pathetic little rocket on the bottom does not appear to have the massive power needed to accelerate that amount of mass to 3500MPH or the fuel capacity. If you could enlighten me how they pulled that off I would be grateful. NOBODY EVER MENTIONS SUCH A SIMPLE DETAIL LIKE THIS!

    Comment by Geo K — January 15, 2014 @ 2:44 am | Reply

    • ‘The pathetic little rocket on the bottom does not appear to have the massive power needed to accelerate that amount of mass to 3500MPH or the fuel capacity.’

      You’ve hit the nail on the head. You’re ‘does not appear’ assumption says it all – you are not a rocket scientist, and therefore anything you have to say is based on ignorance. As if anybody should give credibility to anything you have to say on the matter.
      Obviously the ‘pathetic little rocket’ WAS adequate for the required task, as the ascent stage of the lunar module safely returned to lunar orbit on 6 separate occasions.

      Comment by Chris C — August 15, 2014 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

      • “As if anybody should give credibility to anything you have to say on the matter.
        Obviously the ‘pathetic little rocket’ WAS adequate for the required task, as the ascent stage of the lunar module safely returned to lunar orbit on 6 separate occasions.”

        The same could be said about you and you circular logic ! “It was not a hoax because clearly the astronauts made it back from the moon with this rocket” Ehh what ? You really don’t see a problem with this sentence ?
        Don’t get circular logic ? well let me help you. “A is true because B is true; B is true because A is true.” bah ! shame on you !

        Comment by Jeroen — November 28, 2014 @ 1:47 am

      • The excuse for no rocket plume because the engine exhaust is jetting out into a vacuum does not hold water in the least. A rocket can only have thrust in a vacuum because it holds it’s own oxidizer along with it’s fuel. This reaction thus creates an atmosphere at the bell end of the rocket’s nozzle. All true rocket engines shoot a visible jet of combustive fuel being detonated with oxygen. There would be no way the jet would be invisible. Oxygen itself releases photons when it catalyzes a burning substance. So when a rocket exhaust is part fuel and part oxygen, photons are being released along with the thrust and waste products of burning less than ideal fuels,..

        Comment by Mike — June 26, 2015 @ 9:04 pm

  17. There is virtually no image degradation caused by radiation exposure in any of the film rolls. This couldn’t be possible outside the earth’s magnetosphere. Even IMAX film suffered damage from the time the film was being loaded and unloaded from the cameras. That was inside the magnetosheath of the earth also.

    Comment by Mike — June 26, 2015 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

    • Indeed, we’re talking about the days of analog photography with films rolls and such, NOT DIGITAL. It seems rather dubious that the astronauts could have taken so many pictures given the harsh conditions of the moon, the lack of an atmosphere to protect the film against radiation exposure, and the fine dexterity needed to change the rolls. They were supposedly wearing pressurized gloves that would make changing the rolls quite challenging, even it was as convenient as the anti-Hoaxers claim. The cameras had no radiation protection at all. To top it off, the Swedish engineer who designed the camera admits that he cannot answer adequately all the many discrepancies of the moon photos, or perhaps he simply does not want to.

      Comment by QuestionReality — August 3, 2015 @ 7:15 am | Reply

  18. Jack White was apparently as bad at maths as he was at photo analysis. He was the conspiracist that first put this forward.
    His assumptions are incorrect.

    Lets look at Apollo 11 in detail:

    EVA time. = 151 minutes 40 seconds
    x 2 astronauts = 303 minutes 20 seconds
    except Buzz came down the ladder about 12 minutes after Armstrong so lets say. 291 minutes

    There were 123 photos taken on the surface with the Hassleblad (White says 121 for some reason, I guess he wasn’t so good at counting).

    123/291 = an average of 1 shot every 141.95 seconds.

    EXCEPT
    The photos were mostly taken in groups so there was little or no movement within a group.
    There wasn’t much (if any) setup done per shot, settings were mostly for standard bright daylight, small aperture (long depth of field)

    Here are the groups
    12 shots: Neil takes Pan 1, consisting of twelve frames, 5850-61
    4 shots: Neil takes two photos of Buzz coming out through the hatch, 5862-63 and two of the jettison bag under the descent stage,
    4 shots: Neil takes four photos of Buzz on the ladder, 5866-69.
    2 shots: Neil takes two photos of the LM, 5870-71 (5871 might have been unintentional)
    2 shots: Neil takes two photos of Buzz deploying the Solar Wind Collector, 5872-73
    2 shots: Neil takes two photos of Buzz saluting the U.S. Flag, 5874-75.
    5 shots: Buzz takes five photos for the Bootprint Penetration Experiment, 5876-80.
    11 shots: Buzz takes Pan 2, consisting of eleven frames, 5881-91
    5 shots: Buzz takes five photos to document the condition of the LM, 5892-96
    5 shots: Neil takes five photos of the plaque, 5897-5901.
    2 shots: Neil takes two full-length portraits of Buzz, 5902-03
    13 shots: Buzz takes Pan 3, consisting of thirteen frames, 5904-16.
    12 shots: Buzz takes twelve more LM inspection photos, 5917-26.
    3 shots: Neil takes three photos documenting the EASEP offload, 5927-29.
    12 shots: Neil takes pan 4, consisting of twelve photos, 5930-41
    12 shots: Neil takes twelve photos of the EASEP deployment, 5942-53.
    9 shots: Neil takes pan 5, consisting of eight photos, 5954-61, and one more on the way back to the LM.
    2 shots: Neil takes two photos of Buzz collecting the core samples, 5963-64;
    6 shots: Neil takes six incidental photos, 5965-70

    Being rediculously generously pessimistic, if you can’t take a shot within a group in less than 10 seconds you’re really doing it wrong.

    120
    40
    40
    20
    20
    20
    50
    110
    50
    50
    20
    130
    120
    30
    120
    120
    90
    20
    60
    =1230 seconds
    20 minutes out of a 291 man-minute EVA, worst case scenario.

    Comment by drewid — August 13, 2015 @ 1:25 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your insightful analysis of the time needed to take photos.

      As a trivial aside: one of the two full-length photos of Buzz Aldrin was blown up to life size, autographed by Aldrin and fastened to a wall in the St. Louis Science Center. Sadly, the signature has almost disappeared, due to being under florescent lighting for many years.

      Comment by Rick K. — August 13, 2015 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

    • even if you say that someone should be able to take a picture within 10 seconds doesn’t make it a fact. The astronauts were not expert photographers yet every picture came out perfect and only took 10 seconds while wearing heavy pressurized gloves? You do agree that their suits and gloves had to be pressurized or do you think there is an atmosphere in a vacuum environment on the moon? The cameras used by the astronauts were not modified in any way which is what NASA claims, unless now they are saying something different. Is the story changing again?

      Comment by Cody Nundy — November 25, 2016 @ 1:28 am | Reply

  19. Hasselblad is a medium film format camera. Therefore it uses a clumsy back that will fit 120 or 220 type film. Those are either 12 or 24 shots per roll. How would astronauts load film in space? Or carry with them that many preloaded film backs? It also seems like radiation and temperature would react violently with film chemistry.

    Comment by Matej — October 4, 2015 @ 1:23 am | Reply

    • That was to be my question. Did they keep popping back inside the cramped (too cramped) Module to change film?

      Comment by nicotineaddict — November 10, 2015 @ 12:36 am | Reply

  20. Anybody who thinks we didn’t go to the moon is a Moron. There’s Video showing lots of examples where VERY fine Dust is Thrown up by Both the Astronauts’ Feet and The Lunar buggy’s Wheels and NONE of this Fine Powder Billows into clouds as It would in Earth’s Atmosphere which must mean If they Filmed it on Earth then the WHOLE Studio Would have to have been a Vacuum. If This was the case Then The Whole Supposed Film Crew and Everybody Else involved Would have had to Wear a Space Suit and All Equipment used Modified to handle a Vacuum. PLUS- Every Photo I’ve Seen has been Lit by One Light and This Light Source was Definitely a LONG way Away Because All the shadows Are uniformly Directed and PIN sharp. This Would mean that NASA would have had to use a Light Source EXTREMELY Small But EXTREMELY Bright and VERY Far away To Light the Scene Uniformly which would have Made The Studio ABSOLUTELY IMMENSE and I’m talking MILES long! The Pro-Hoaxers are Imbeciles!!! The Evidence is There on the moon and If the Pro-hoaxers are That bothered by it then Why don’t they start a fund to send their OWN ship to the moon where the Landings occured and Disprove it! They Won’t because they KNOW we went to the Moon and they Just like Pissing people off! Arseholes! Lol

    Comment by Dan — October 9, 2015 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  21. First and foremost only one astronaut per mission wore a camera. Buzz did not take one shot from the lunar surface.
    Second I am not sure when Buzz and Neil left the scene to take so many shots because what I watch (apollo unedited film of apollo 11) show them bouncing around like puppets more than taking 121 shots.

    Comment by Len Danley — November 10, 2015 @ 10:42 am | Reply

  22. I’m not entirely sure where these people are getting their “5,771” photographs taken on the moon. I went to the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, and to Apolloarchive, and physically counted all of the photos taken on the surface and during EVA for each mission. They only added up to 1,536 photos. Apollo 11 – 131 photos. A12 – 267 photos, A14 – 123 photos, A15 – 276 photos, A16 – 257 photos, A17 – 482 photos. Adding it up, 1,536 / 2 = 768 photos per astronaut, over 4,834 minutes, or 6.29 minutes per photo per astronaut. What exactly is the claim anyway?

    Comment by Lancer 525 — January 8, 2016 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

    • Does the archive also contain the photos that were taken, but turned out to be essentially useless?

      I know that when I’m taking photos, I end up with a percentage of them that are out of focus, too dark or light, way off angle, or some other problem that prompts me to delete them from the memory card.

      If the1,536 photos you found also include the rejects, the archive makes the “5,771” number beyond absurd.

      Comment by Rick K. — January 9, 2016 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

  23. Lets rephrase this….NO PHOTOS at all…thanks to the intense radiation. NASA iteslf admits it cannot get an astronaut through the Van Allen radiation
    belts. Its just ignorance and blind faith that lets pointless arguments over pictures on a moon might be taken when no astronaut would have been
    alive when the spacecraft got there.

    The title of this site..Exposing PseudoAstronomy…is brutally ironic when you realize NASA itself realizes it cannot send anyone safely anywhere but LEO
    and none of the Apollo “achievements” provide any technical foundation, NASA is no inventing heat shielding, re-entry and launch vehicles from scratch.

    Comment by ss nnn — June 9, 2016 @ 6:41 pm | Reply

    • NASA has NEVER said they ‘cannot get an astronaut through the Van Allen radiation belts’. How stupid do you think they are, having already put many Apollo astronauts through the belts, to then say that it can’t be done? You hoax theorists really are a special kind of stupid.

      Comment by Chris Carter — October 2, 2016 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

      • yes NASA has said that radiation in space is an obstacle to going “back” to the moon and sending men to Mars. I read it on NASA’s website.

        This is why hoax theorists are asking NASA: if radiation in space is an obstacle now in our current age with advanced technology compared to technology in 1969 AND NASA was able to put a man on the moon in 1969 THEN why is radiation an obstacle to us now in 2016 or even in the later 70’s, 80’s 90’s. Why didn’t we go back during those time periods or in the 21st Century?

        Why not just dig out the Apollo equipment with the radiation shield that supposedly works great and integrate it with today’s 21st Century technology and return men to the moon and build a permanent base on the moon?

        According to you “moon landing believers” or what i call “brainwashees” man landed on the moon with no problem whatsoever which from a statistical probability perspective is impossible with all the things that can possibly go wrong and with no margin for error whatsoever.

        What amazes me is how nobody wants to ask these questions but just blindly goes on believing NASA without just stopping for a second and using logic and reason. Don’t worry about how a hoax would be kept secret or how could all those videos and photos be faked, ask yourself one simple question: if NASA pulled off going to the moon why wouldn’t it have been exploited to the max? We live in a capitalist nation and if it were such a simple and safe procedure to go to the moon, why wasn’t it repeated later on and not just by the US but by the Russians, the Chinese, the Japanese, etc.

        The US has a base in Antartica and so do the Russians as well as a few other nations. Why would all these nations bother to have research stations if one nation already has a station there. Believe me Antartica’s environment is not very hospitable. So why would the moon be any different? If the US did in fact make it possible to go to the moon and return safely, like they claim, wouldn’t US scientists share this info with the world so other nations can join us on the moon and share the moon in peace and brotherhood?

        Even if it meant coming in second, if it were at all possible to go to the moon safely, the Russians would have done it too. They would have done it to say that they are equal to the US and are a spacefaring people too. If something is not possible, the Russians won’t waste their time or money. Now most will think: why didn’t the Russians call out the US if they knew it is impossible to get to the moon? That is a good question but the answer doesn’t matter or change the result if there is another part of the equation that doesn’t add up such as why wouldn’t moon travel be exploited to the max if it can be done so easily and safely? If going to the moon is such an easy process with no danger involved it should have continued by NASA until being handed off to the private sector. This has been the pattern in the past with such things as the Internet and recently by NASA handing off traveling into LEO to the private sector since the shuttles have been retired.

        The only thing that doesn’t add up is the Apollo Missions. Hoax supporters are always asked to use their brains by moon landing supporters, and i am using my brain. I always have. Am i over thinking it? Maybe. Or maybe there is something that NASA is not telling us. Now I’m asking moon landing supporters to use your brains, take all of your emotions out of the equation (emotions cloud people’s ability to think rationally) and really think not so much about how a hoax would be pulled off by NASA but think about every facet that would be involved in going to the moon and that not one mistake was made from 1969 to 1972 with equipment never tested until it went into space and it all worked perfectly, doesn’t that seem unusual?

        Moon landing supporters need to not focus on the absurd nature of a hoax but focus on NASA’s actions since the supposed last landing on the moon. Why did NASA give up on the idea of a base on the moon? Why wouldn’t other nations take up this idea since the US wasn’t doing it? If humans from one country can land a men on the moon and safely return them then obviously humans living in another country could do it too, and why not? Why wouldn’t the private sector send a ship with men to the moon and be the first corporation to do so? There’s a lot of minerals that can be mined on the moon and it would be a much better place to launch from into deeper space. There are a lot of uber rich people who wouldn’t mind paying a hefty price for a trip to the moon and maybe even buy a chunk of it and put a hotel for other uber rich people to vacation on the moon. These things should of happened if it is so easy to get there according to NASA. Or could it be that it is not so easy to get to the moon?

        Comment by Cody Nundy — November 25, 2016 @ 6:17 pm


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