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Lunar Eavesdropping: Two Men, a Radio, and Apollo 11 (Part II) — 1 Comment

  1. Fernando Comerón sent the following to me, which (with his permission) I share with readers of The Catholic Astronomer, who I think will find it of interest. The “ESO” to which Comerón refers is the European Southern Observatory. He is an astronomer at ESO, and Head of the ESO Data Management and Operations Division).

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    From: Fernando Comerón
    Sent: Saturday, July 7, 2018 2:51 PM
    To: Graney, Christopher M (Jefferson)
    Cc: Fernando Comerón
    Subject: on your articles “Lunar Eavesdropping: Two Men, a Radio, and Apollo 11”

    Dear Mr. Graney,

    I just had the pleasure of reading… “Lunar Eavesdropping: Two Men, a Radio, and Apollo 11″…. It was great to read about Mr. Baysinger’s feat of fifty years ago, and I fully agree with your remarks at the end regarding conspiracy theories denying the Moon landings.

    I just wanted to share with you a personal story that, although not providing as definitive a proof as Mr. Baysinger’s recordings, also goes in the same direction of supporting the evidence for the lunar landings independently of material produced by NASA. Back in 2009, just a few days after the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, I was granted observing time at Unit 4 of ESO’s 8.2m Very Large Telescope in Chile to obtain a series of infrared images of Tranquility Base at the time of sunset using NACO, an adaptive optics-assisted camera, using a nearby illuminated peak as the wavefront sensing reference to obtain a high Strehl ratio. As a result of the observations I got a large number of extremely detailed images of the area — probably the sharpest images of the area ever obtained from the ground. Having obtained them at lunar sunset time greatly enhanced the vertical profile in the direction of the shadows near the terminator, thus amplifying the detail.

    One can compare those images with those recorded from the Lunar Orbiter probes, from the Apollo 11 Service Module, and with the records taken from onboard the Eagle as it approached the lunar surface, which provide extremely detailed views of the area. The NACO images reproduce exactly what is seen in those records. Now, 1969 was a time when all telescopes on the ground were seeing-limited, and the best lunar imagery by far was that available from lunar orbit. The NACO images show a level of detail that was impossible to obtain from the ground back then — adaptive optics was more than one decade into the future, even for military purposes as we now know, and its application to astronomy would have to wait until the end of the Cold War. Yet current state-of-the-art instrumentation, producing images with far better resolution than one could imagine in 1969, shows the same landscape that one could see only from lunar orbit, or on the way to the lunar surface, fifty years ago.

    Conspiracy theorists might argue that Lunar Orbiter did happen but Apollo did not, that the forgery was sophisticated to the point of sending lunar probes to image the areas where the public would be told that the Apollo missions landed, that the improved imagery collected from lunar orbiters in the 1990s and the 2000s showing the traces of the activities at the landing sites are part of the conspiracy — who knows! In the end, that just highlights what Armstrong said once: “it would have been harder to fake it than to do it”.

    Thank you for reading and letting me share this story with you. By the way, all data taken with ESO telescopes are publicly available through the ESO archive after one year of proprietary period, so the comparison described above can be made by anyone interested in spending some time on it.

    Best regards,

    Fernando Comerón

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