Did the moon landing actually happen? | Science | In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 18.07.2019

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Did the moon landing actually happen?

Twelve astronauts have been on the moon thus far. And yet these lunar landings are often questioned. But who knows, maybe it never happened and nothing is as it seems?

No American has ever been to the moon. It's all just fake.

The moon landings? Staged in TV studios, where the scenes weren't even properly lit.

And then there were the amateur mistakes, such as the waving US flag. Pfffff. As if flags "wave" on the moon. Without an atmosphere. Fake. A political conspiracy by the Americans to show the Soviets, "Look, we got it, you don't. Our men are able to land on the moon, not yours."

Space Race, Cold War. Sometimes special methods are needed.

Read more: From Apollo 11 to the new space race

Earthquake machines and lizard people

And while we're at it: In the wilderness of Alaska, a mysterious research facility is said to exist that can cause earthquakes. It's called HAARP, and it's also capable of various weather manipulations to terrorize the world. Enter "HAARP" and "earthquakes" into Google and marvel at the number of hits.

Want another one? Here you go: Chemtrails, or the white stripes in the sky that we all think are just harmless contrails. In reality, however, airplanes spray chemicals on behalf of evil governments to change the weather, the climate and to poison us humans.

And of course, the earth is flat — and hollow inside.

And is actually ruled by lizard men.

Read more:Of 'white guys on the Moon' and black America


Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin place the US flag on the Moon

A question of perspective: Are the shadows of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin at the wrong angle?

We all love conspiracy theories

Are you laughing now? Or are you slowly getting angry? Such nonsense from DW? OK, then, well you're obviously not very prone to falling for conspiracy theories.

Just how many people believe in absurd stories of this kind has not been put into numbers. Nor do we know whether today, in 2019, there are more of these people than before.

In any case, crude conspiracy theories have become more visible through the internet and social media, psychologists say. Followers of these ideas feel supported, and they no longer feel they're part of a small minority.

But scientific experiments also show that conspiracy theorists enjoy believing the most absurd things in order to belong to a supposedly exclusive, elitist circle of knowledge.

Though psychological reasons behind why so many people still believe the moon landing was faked still need to be scientifically examined, the trigger was a strange book by the American Bill Kaysing. It was published in 1976 under the title "We never went to the Moon."

And it was a success. Many people believed the absurd theories. Kaysing was not a scientist, technician nor an engineer. He was an author who wrote about agriculture, cooking or saving on tax payments. He came up with make-believe evidence to prove that moon landings actually never occurred.

Read more: Towards the Moon: Why Europe wants to work with China

Buzz Aldrin in front of the US-Flag

Does the flag really fly? Of course not, it's held up, by a bar.

These are four of his most popular theories:

1. The waving flag

Conspiracy theorists say:

In the footage, the US flag that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin rammed into the moon's regolith blows in the wind. But that is not possible, because there is no atmosphere on the moon.

Science says:

The flag did not flap. It only moved when the two astronauts touched it and rammed it into the ground. On Earth, the atmosphere quickly slows down such light oscillations. But on the moon — without atmosphere — the oscillations keep going for much longer. In addition, a cross strut was braced in the flag to give the impression it was blowing.

Read more: Why aren’t Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk trying to colonize the moon?

2. No stars in the photos

Conspiracy theorists say:

On the moon pictures, no stars are to be seen. So they were created in a studio.

Science says:

It's true that on the moon — without an atmosphere to disturb things — we have a fantastic view of the starry cosmos. But when the astronauts were on the moon, it was always daytime. One explanation is that the moon's surface, the lander and the astronauts were so brightly illuminated by the sun that the weak light of the stars was not to be seen.

3. The photos were too perfect

Conspiracy theorists say:

The Hasselblad cameras carried by the astronauts at chest height had no viewfinder. How could the astronauts take so many perfect photos with them?

Science says:

Not all pictures were perfect. There are numerous blurred images in NASA's archives. Only the most beautiful ones have been published. In addition, the astronauts had time to practice with the Hasselblad cameras on Earth. A special wide-angle lens simplified focusing and allowed larger image sections.

Read more: 50 years ago the space race took humans to the moon


4. The shadows run diagonally

Conspiracy theorists say:

Some photos show shadows that do not run in parallel to each other. With the sun as the only light source, however, all shadows should run in parallel. But they don't. That's why spotlights must have been involved.

Science says:

Parallelism is always a matter of perspective. Parallel lines on a three-dimensional surface always appear as if they are converging if they are imaged two-dimensionally. Think of railway tracks. They seem to converge towards the horizon, although they are always guaranteed to be parallel. This is true on earth and also on the moon. 

Read more: Why NASA turned Apollo tough guy pilots to geologists

Not enough yet?

There are other points that moon landing deniers make about dust, radiation or shadows. But there is no reliable evidence to suggest a moon landing conspiracy.

So the bottom line is: The moon landings took place, and not even the Soviets questioned it back then. And that meant something in the Cold War era.

Also, a total of about 400,000 people worked on the Apollo missions. So there were enough witnesses, and one of them would have mentioned something at some point.

What do you think?

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