Exposing PseudoAstronomy

February 16, 2013

Podcast #65: José Escamilla’s Movie “Celestial”

A fantasia of pareidolia and misunderstanding image data, the movie “Celestial” gets a quick review on this roughly 24-minute-long episode.

There’s a Q&A, Puzzler (and solution for last time), and even a correction for the last episode and announcement for this one:

The episode for March 16, 2013, should be another interview with the pseudononymous Expat, who was my first interview ever back in Episode 10, for November 1, 2011. Expat will be returning to talk about the many conspiracy theories of Richard C. Hoagland related to politics and some technology at NASA. The reason I’m announcing this so early is that this topic garnered a lot of interest on the Facebook page for the podcast, and so I wanted to let you know early so that if there’s a specific question or topic you’d like me to ask Expat about, you can send it in. You can do that in any of the half-dozen ways there are to get in contact with me.


  1. I was listening to the episode on an Ipod and part way through it stopped at about 11 minutes in. When I tried listening to the episode on my computer it stopped at the same point. Up to that point I was finding it quite interesting, I had not realised the ‘Rods Guy’ had branched out.

    Comment by Graham — February 17, 2013 @ 5:03 am | Reply

    • Try re-downloading the episode. The version that I downloaded from the server seems to work fine. Re-download and let me know if the issue persists.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — February 17, 2013 @ 11:35 am | Reply

      • I’ve re-downloaded the episode and this time there were no problems. Looking forward to your episode on the Schumann resonances, Chris White covered this in his debunking of some of Gregg Bradens claims. I’ve watched that youtube clip and there is a section where Chris makes some claims about the orbit of Mars that might be worth doing an episode on.

        Comment by Graham — February 19, 2013 @ 1:50 am

      • Glad it works now. Do you have a link to the White interview?

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — February 19, 2013 @ 9:44 am

      • You can watch the film on youtube, the direct link is below, the segment in question starts at 0:21:26 in with Braden claiming the Earth is going to stop rotating on 21/12/12 and then start rotating in the opposite direction. White then points out Braden does not provide a mechanism for this and then brings up (At about 0:27:30) the idea that Mars was once in a resonant orbit with Earth and that it only obtained it’s current orbit in historical times.

        In the next few days i’m going to email a question for Expat, it’s got a long quote from Hoagland coming from one of his pre ‘Face-on-Mars’ writings.

        Comment by Graham — February 19, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

  2. In answer to your question — the net has democratized info sources to the point that any loony can now seize raw data of the kind that was once available only to the educated/initiated. With the results you describe. My reaction, personally, is get in in among ’em. Post comments to youtube insanities, ATS, Kerry Cassidy’s astoundingly ignorant “community.” Maybe I’ll tire of it one day. But the genie will never go back in the bottle, or the condom back in the foil pack. Whether we choose to look or not, we’re stuck with the Escamillas and Baras.

    Comment by Expat — February 18, 2013 @ 9:23 am | Reply

  3. I appreciate your assestment of my film Celestial. My name is Curtis Hedges and I am the executive producer of Celestial and President of TBLNFilms.com.

    I wanted to address a common counter claim made by “skeptics” which conflicts with publicly assesible information on the subject.

    In Celestial, Jose Escamilla uses Mapaplanet.gov as his official source to were he got all of these amazing color images of the Moon. Jose only uses “Full Natural Color” images taken directly from this site. Mapaplanet.gov is very specific about these “Full Natural Color” images taken by the Clementine satellite versus “False Color” images used primarily for typography/soil mineralogy purposes. Heres a note taken directly from Mapaplanet.gov regarding Full Natural Color images: The composite image is not truly “natural color,” but mimics natural color to the human eye.

    Are skeptics claiming that if we were floating 60+ miles above the Moon that the “Natural Color Images” featured on Mapaplanet.gov are not anywhere close to how our eyes would precieve the Moon’s color had we actually been there in person?

    To further verify that the Full Natural Color images taken by the Clementine Satellite are presenting the Moon as our eyes would precieve it, we present video within the film taken by an amatuer astronomer named Bill Bryson (Texas resident) who films the Moon from his backyard and captures the same exact color, in the same exact regions on the Moon as presented and verified in the Clementine Full Natural Color images.

    Personally, I havent seen any genuine skepticism addressing this aspect of my film since it debut 2 years ago, but I would encourage positive discussion about it.

    Comment by Curtis Hedges — September 9, 2014 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

    • Curtis, you need to read further. Directly from the Map-a-Planet website on the data, which clearly puts the word “natural” into quotes, it states: “(Note: The composite image is not truly “natural color,” but mimics natural color to the human eye.)” It states this is from the UVVIS camera, which includes ultraviolet and infrared.

      Finally, and most damning, there were NO visible light images that went into the mosaic. The website provides a table right after that paragraph I linked to which says that the red channel in the image corresponds to 1000 nm images (which it states is “near infrared”), green is mapped from the 900 nm band (again, “near infrared”), and blue is from the 415 nm band (ultraviolet).

      Therefore, it is NOT POSSIBLE for the mosaic to be “natural color” unless you are putting “natural” in quotes to not mean natural.

      Finally, just look at the moon with your eye. Does it look as technicolor as the mosaics you’re using? No. Case closed.

      You need to actually understand the data that you’re using, not just read the quick blurbs. You are simply wrong. And, you did not address any of the other points I raised.

      Edited just a minute later to add: One amateur astronomer turning the color saturation way up on his camera does not equal “true color” as the unaided human eye would see it.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — September 9, 2014 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

      • I understand your argument regarding the IR and UV information in the images, but your scrutinization is incorrect – just because there is a level or tone of green, red or blue that would normally evade our perception which in part is included in the images data being captured does not mean it is not red, green or blue to how our eyes would perceive it if we were there in person. Your argument is simply tonality, not that there is real color being represented in those images. You should check out the “Full Natural Color” image taken of Earth by the Clementine satellite while it was in orbit around the Moon as a point of reference to see how close to reality we are talking here when it comes to the Moon’s color. You can google it or visit the bottom of this page for 2 images – http://www.thelivingmoon.com/43ancients/41Group_Lunar_FYEO/02files/FYEO_Clementine_01.html.

        Further more, Scintillation and Rayleigh backscattering of light passing through the upper atmosphere does play a major role in the washing out of color coming from the Moon unless I am mistaken with the application of adaptive optics being used by major observatories which correct this.

        Changing the saturation levels in a view finder has little to do with the actual color data being captured. If the Moon was truly a grey, colorless body, than no color data would show up regardless of the light levels or saturation adjustments applied.

        Comment by Curtis Hedges — September 9, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

      • “just because there is a level or tone of green, red or blue that would normally evade our perception which in part is included in the images data being captured does not mean it is not red, green or blue to how our eyes would perceive it if we were there in person.”

        No, you are wrong. The human eye cannot see >750 nm or <450 nm (those are approximate numbers, it varies from person to person by a few 10s nm. Taking an IR or UV image with a CCD and then assigning it a certain human-visible color does not mean that is what the human eye would see. It may be an approximation, but 100% of that data is outside of the human visual spectrum, hence it is NOT what we would see with the human eye.

        “Scintillation and Rayleigh backscattering of light passing through the upper atmosphere does play a major role in the washing out of color coming from the Moon unless I am mistaken with the application of adaptive optics being used by major observatories which correct this.”

        AO focuses. It doesn’t change anything about scattering. Scattering removes some light, and preferentially more blue light. That doesn’t turn something technicolor into something grey.

        “Changing the saturation levels in a view finder has little to do with the actual color data being captured.”

        I agree with you. But when you display it on a computer and stretch it, that is not what your eye would see. LPI has a good, very brief explanation of the “natural color” Clementine map, specifically with respect to an image of Tycho: “Although the natural color of the Moon is a brownish-gray, the color here has been artificially “stretched” by computer to aid in visual interpretation. The central peak complex (center) shows a blue coloration, indicating that different rocks occur here than elsewhere in the crater. The color images provided by the Clementine spacecraft will allow us to map rock types over the entire Moon.”

        In other words, the moon has very little color. When you take photos in three or more different wavelengths of light, you can find small differences in how much is reflected back in the different wavelength bands – regardless of whether a human can see those wavelengths of light or not. You can combine them and assign each band a different color in the computer. You can then stretch the differences to bring those differences out to better see them. THAT’S what’s been done.

        “If the Moon was truly a grey, colorless body, than no color data would show up regardless of the light levels or saturation adjustments applied.”

        No one is saying the moon is completely colorless. Take Apollo 17’s orange glass. There is no such thing as a perfectly grey material that perfectly evenly reflects all wavelengths of light. The moon is close, but composition differences will be revealed in certain wavelengths of light. Clementine’s camera filters were designed to be centered on where those differences are largest.

        You need to read up on how cameras work, how filters work, how images are color calibrated, and details about the camera system itself. I’ve covered that somewhat on my podcast, such as episode 48 and episode 74. Your claim also fails reconciliation with any of the Apollo color photographs — why don’t they show the same colors and the same level of color saturation as the Clementine map, without boosting the saturation way up (you can use pictures with the LM or US flag for calibration)? Or WAC color mosaics which actually *do* contain human-visible-light bands?

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — September 9, 2014 @ 3:51 pm

      • I disagree that 100% of the data is outside of the human visual range. If I were to view into the IR or UV spectrum my impression of the color Blue maybe brighter or dimmer than how it would appear in the visible spectrum, but it will appear as a tone of Blue regardless and this indicates what its true color is. At the end of the day we can do what I originally suggested in my last post to supersede our opinions on the matter; look at an image of the Earth shot by the same satellite in color and compare it to that of the Moon in color. Its that easy in eliminating opinions and getting down to the true here!

        AO brings out the details in color too.

        As you probably know or not, gray is typically the absence of color. When you mix black and white together you get gray, which is why all color is measured in levels of gray at least as a digital standard (computer monitors). This is why all Hubble images are captured in gray scale first, than the correct color is added in later by NASA using the different tonalities of gray to determine the color we would have seen in the visible spectrum had we been there in person. Jose Escamilla has applied this identical method to Apollo images as well featured in his film, Moon Views. When the Hubble took a picture of the Moon, the public was privileged to viewing that image in its gray scale only, absent of any necessary color corrections that are typically done by NASA. My point is that the Moon has an amazing amount of color and it would be your personal opinion to the contrary – http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA00404

        Suggesting that I need to read up on a subject that I am fairly versed in sounds more like self promotion of your personal pod cast. Allow me to exercise some self promotion too regarding your question about Apollo color photographs: We covered the Apollo photographs and mission in general quite extensively in another film I produced called Moon Rising – http://www.moonrising-themovie.com
        Your Apollo questions are heavily addressed in that film on multiple levels and I would encourage you to watch it, with an open mind of course.

        I appreciate you taking the time to share your opinions about my film Celestial. I am all for constructive criticism. Good luck with your podcast.

        Comment by Curtis Hedges — September 9, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

      • Considering this is my blog and podcast, I have every right to refer someone to information I have previously written about than to reiterate it again.

        I’m going to say this one more time: You are wrong about color. Your statements in the first paragraph make that very clear. Objects with different compositions reflect different wavelengths of light differently. Thinking that just because you’re taking a picture “near” the red it’ll look the same as if you were taking the picture in red is NOT correct. To wit, the Clementine spacecraft lacked ANY narrow-band filter that was in the visible range, with the UVVIS camera having a 415 nm with 40 nm bandpass filter, and the next was 750 with a 10 nm bandpass. That’s UV or just BARELY V and IR.

        Stuff looks different. this PDF, page 5 (and the graph shows the Clementine filters in addition to a few other lines) shows how different rocks behave at different wavelengths. Hence, by keying in on a few, and then stretching the saturation when you do a color composite, reveals differences for geologists.

        Edited to Add this paragraph: For example, some flowers are yellow to humans. You would never predict that beyond the visible spectrum they’d be bright. But, they practically glow in ultraviolet (they reflect a lot of UV light) which bees can see and hence bees are guided to them. So you can’t linearly extrapolate that something that’s bright in blue will be bright in UV, or vice versa. It’s just wrong.

        Look, I’ve explained this now several times. If you’re not going to accept it, then you’re going to keep producing films that people are going to laugh at because of all the misinformation. When you’re among a very very few who think you know something that all these other people don’t or are hiding, chances are you’re wrong. I’ve tried to explain how and why you’re wrong. If you ignore it, that’s your choice, and we’re not going to get any further with this.

        As for the Galileo image, try reading the caption, and try finding the actual filters used to construct that image, and see if it was stretched. Here’s a starting point.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — September 9, 2014 @ 6:07 pm

      • http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/html/object_page/clm_earth_mos.html

        Here are 3 color images of Earth taken by the Clementine Satellite. Strectrhed, filtered or not, we are comparing apples to apples now.
        Now compare these three images to the same color images taken by Clementine of the Moon. Theres no need to continue. The Moon has awesome color everywhere. Peace!

        Comment by Curtis Hedges — September 9, 2014 @ 6:55 pm

  4. This color composite (http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/223) is captured at 320 nm light in blue, 415 nm in green and 689 nm in red. The blue is exaggerated but the rest of the color in the image falls within the average visual acuity of your typical human eye. I’m guesstimating that this image is 95% accurate to how your eye would perceive it had you been there in person. These images also look identical to the Natural Full Color images of the Clementine when you match crater for crater to the LROC composite below.

    I don’t have the slightest clue how you can claim a debunking of Celestial on your little blog in light of this…

    Good luck and GOD bless…

    Comment by Curtis Hedges — September 9, 2014 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

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