On July 20, 1969, man finally did the impossible. We landed on the moon. As the world watched back on Earth, Neil Armstrong became the first person take that "one giant leap for mankind" as he set foot on extra-terrestrial soil. The moment was undoubtedly historic. And, being so historic, the moment was heavily documented. Photographs, video footage and first hand accounts of the event have left their mark on our culture the same way the astronauts have left their footprints on the moon.
Apollo 11 rocketed to the moon containing astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins plus an American flag to be planted on lunar soil. Armstrong and Aldrin got to explore the terrain, while Collins remained inside the spacecraft. Armstrong later called the voyage "a beginning of a new age."
Unless you've been living under a moon rock, you've seen the images taken of the, as Aldrin called it, "magnificent desolation" of the moon. The photos of Armstrong and Aldrin taking their steps off of the Eagle lunar module and onto the surface of the moon have become iconic. One of man's greatest scientific achievements has also etched itself on pop culture.
As cool as the moon landing was, some people view the endeavor as a hoax. It has been rumored that the moon landing was all smoke and mirrors - or at least Hollywood cameras and backdrops. The moon was, in reality, a secret set nestled in either the Hollywood Hills or Area 51.
Some people believe that America, desperate to compete with Russia, staged the moon landing as a way to win the race to space. The waving U.S. flag, to some is seen as a symbol of American greatness. To others, it's seen as evidence that the whole thing was faked. The waves indicate a presence of wind, which cannot exist in a vacuum.
The waving of the flag has been explained by NASA (Aldrin twisted the flagpole to plant it, which caused waves). However, there are other indicators that many perceive to indicate that the moon landing was faked. Have you ever noticed how there are no stars in any of the moon landing photos? If they're in space, why can't we see stars?
Some might say that the moon landing was filmed against a black backdrop, leading to the lack of stars. As it turns out, there's a logical explanation for the starless sky as well. And the explanation is further indication that the moon landing was the real deal.
The answer to the mystery of why there are no stars is simple. It's the camera setting that the astronauts used. To put it simply, the cameras weren't adjusted to photograph the stars. To put it complicatedly, well, read on...
When you're taking a photo on Earth, there are two different camera adjustments that impact the quality. If you're in broad daylight, you can narrow the aperture (the hole in the camera that lets in light), to keep too much light from getting in. Additionally, you'd turn up the shutter speed so that the light would only briefly be let in.
If you were snapping a photo at night, you'd have to adjust the camera for that, too. You'd want the aperture to be wider and the shutter speed to be lower. That way, more light would be let in, adjusting for the lack of light at night. Granted, these camera settings are for Earth. Let's see how they play out on the moon.
On the moon, everything goes out the window. It's "Lunar Rules" now! You have to pick and choose what you want captures in the photo. If you want to capture the stars, you would have to select a slow shutter speed, and the subject (in this case Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Old Glory) would have to stay completely still so the stars wouldn't blur.
If the subject of the photo was more important than the stars, you'd pick a faster shutter speed and a small aperture. Old Glory would come through crisp and clear. However, the camera wouldn't allow enough light to capture everything to come in. Thus, the background of the photo would remain dark, which means no stars would come through.
It's a real Sophie's choice. And this is the choice that the astronauts on the Apollo had to make. Do you want to see Buzz nice and clear? Or do you want to adequately capture the rich and interesting moon landscape? The astronauts decided that being able to see the stars wasn't as important as being able to see the first human being to ever set foot on something that wasn't Earth.
As a side note, one might think that the black sky of the moon means it's always nighttime. This is not so. The moon receives as much sunlight as the Earth does, however, there's no atmosphere on the moon to scatter the daylight. This created additional challenges for the astronauts, as the surface of the moon is too bright for a camera lens.
So there you have it! It's not evidence of a hoax! The lack of stars in the moon landing isn't because the art department forgot to paint them on the flats of the moon set. Now, the rover landing on Mars is a whole different story...