Exposing PseudoAstronomy

July 24, 2012

Podcast Episode 45: The Moon’s Changing Recession Rate

A discussion of this young-Earth creationist claim, dating back about 3-4 decades, has been posted. The main segment is reasonably short, around 13ish minutes.

No new news segment, but all the others are there excepting a new puzzler: Q&A, Feedback, Puzzler solutions for episodes 43 and 44, and some announcements.

The main announcement is that I’ve re-released my Richard Hoagland lunar ziggurat debunking. If you downloaded it on Monday, that’s the old version. I released this new one at around 6AM GMT on Wednesday, July 25. It’s 5 minutes 29 seconds long — not the 4 minutes 25 seconds one. There’s a minor correction about shadows, and I also show the latest lunar imagery that shows no ziggurat. Plus Mike Bara complaining that Hoagland took the image from him without credit.

If you do nothing else, I would appreciate feedback on the video (post here, send e-mail, whatever). As I mentioned in my last post, these suckers take A LONG TIME, and I don’t want to do them if you don’t think they’re worth it. What you liked, what you didn’t like, what you think I should do differently or make sure to do next time, file size, etc. … all fair game.



  1. The video is excellent, Stuart, a real Hoagland-killer. The update was well worth doing because it does exactly what James Oberg and Don Davis have been saying ought to be done with these so-called anomalies. In simple terms, “give us the coordinates and let’s take a look.” The fact that Hoagland & Bara are always so reluctant to provide coords tells its own story, I think.

    By the way, both of those anti-scientists are today complaining that “the haters are out of full force.” They’ll never understand the difference between hate and error-correction, will they?

    This is a 4-year old HP Pavilion and I’d personally be willing to sacrifice some video quality to keep the file size down. This takes a full 4 minutes to load.

    Comment by Expat — July 25, 2012 @ 6:44 am | Reply

    • From Hoagland:

      Working to finish the Eclipse Paper (which will blow everyone’s minds), so this “ziggurat herfuffle” comes as a bit of a distraction in the middle of that; however, it seemed appropriate to remind everyone — on the 43rd Apollo 11 Anniversary — how MUCH NASA has been hiding, all these years ….

      And, you can quote me (until I can get back to Facebook and explain things more fully myself … )

      I find it fascinating the amount of vitriol my posting this simple image on “Coast” seems to have caused.

      “Hit a nerve,” perhaps ….?

      From Bara (I’m not posting his full post verbatim, you can find his blog if you’re REALLY interested for some reason):

      OK, Since Richard Hoagland decided to post the image of the Ziggurat near Daedalus that I sent him a week or so ago, a bunch of … what’s the right word, Haters? Morons? Have been attacking him over it and accusing him of fabricating it. I didn’t really want to take any time from proofing my new book over this, but lies are lies and sometimes you can’t let them stand. So here is my explanation and response, as posted to Facebook.

      First of all, it is not Hoagland’s Ziggurat, it’s my Ziggurat. I’m the one who found it, I’m the one who named it, I’m the one who researched it, I’m the one who sent it to him, and it’s going to be in my new book …

      Expat knows this, so I’m posting this for other folks: Bara claims it was NASA’s original that was altered, not his. I’ll reiterate why this is the less likely scenario (the two being (a) NASA’s is “unenhanced” or (b) Bara’s is “enhanced”):

      1. The amount of noise and loss of detail in Mike’s/Richard’s version versus the (claimed) original NASA scan indicates the NASA one is more original.
      2. The shadows on the shadow side of the ziggurat are lit when there is no source of light, either direct or scattered.
      3. It is not present in any other image of the region, of which there have been many by many different spacecraft by many different countries. In the video, I only included LRO images, but that’s just one example.

      There are at least two more minor “tells” that I haven’t talked about before: The tilt is a bit wrong due to perspective matching on the shot – the ziggurat would be tilted forward and not level; and if you look at the left-most corner, you can tell it’s superposed on the NASA image not quite right because of the line of light in the upper left matching perfectly with the highlight vs shadow of the crater it’s in in the NASA image. But this shouldn’t be the case, since the walls of the ziggurat should be flat, that entire face should be in shadow, not an extra corner lit up.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — July 25, 2012 @ 10:54 am | Reply

  2. Stuart, can you explain the process you mention here, regarding finding the location on the LRO mosaic: “I did this using a spline interpolation and 88 control points to the most recent lunar surface mosaics.” What’s a ‘spline interpolation’?

    Comment by Trekker — July 25, 2012 @ 7:16 am | Reply

    • This was done in ArcMap software which is what most people who do mapping work use. The basic process is that you have a base image (I used LROC WAC mosaics at 100 mpp) and you have your image in question. You then identify pairs of points from the image in question that correspond with the basemap.

      If you’re doing this for, say, a photo taken pointing straight down from an airplane and trying to tie this to Google Earth or something, then you’ll likely only need to do a half dozen or so pairs of points and can just do a linear fit which will adjust for scale, rotation, and a tiny bit of distortion.

      You can do more complicated fits like a 2nd-order (2D) polynomial, or 3rd-order polynomial, which corrects for more distortion like if your basemap is a bit funky near the poles and you want to tie your image to it.

      The perspective shot is much more difficult to rectify to the basemaps because it’s a perspective. The scale near you is much different from the scale far away from you. A linear fit was far from accurate, as were both the 2nd and 3rd order polynomials.

      A spline is a perfect fit, by definition, to a set of points. If the points are well behaved, then the interpolation between the points will also reasonably well reflect what’s going on. The issues with splines are that between the points, if it’s not well behaved, you can get some really crazy results depending on the exact type of spline used. You can also get crazy results at the edge.

      But, if you have a lot of control points that you’re fitting from, it will be pretty good, and if your stretch isn’t well represented by polygons, then a spline could be the better option.

      I had to do about 80 points between the Apollo image and the global mosaic in order to get a reasonable representation. It still looks wonky due to shadows that you really can’t fix, but if you overlay the two, it does extremely well over most of the Apollo 11 image. I added another several control points right around the “ziggurat” region to make sure that was especially well tied to the mosaics.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — July 25, 2012 @ 11:02 am | Reply

      • Thanks, Stuart. I got most of that! Actually, it would be interesting to see it explained visually. Any chance of another video, explaining exactly what you did?

        Comment by Trekker — July 25, 2012 @ 11:05 am

      • Nope :). I would have loved to show it morphing to the basemap, or the WAC strip I showed in the video, but that is way beyond my capabilities. Doing a movie capture to an hour’s work of lining things up and showing it in software that <1% of people will know would also be fairly difficult, I think.

        I'd be happy to send the image to anyone who wants it along with the auxilliary files that Arc generates, though.

        It looks like this is a reasonable tutorial to explain the basics of rectification, though.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — July 25, 2012 @ 11:08 am

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