Figure 4.8.1a: NBC news screenshots from 17:48 16/04/72 compared with ESSA 9 satellite mosaic and AS16-118-1887. Left is a 3D reconstruction of the scene using digitally restored ESSA data.

Figure 4.8.2: GAP scan of AS16-118-18885

Figure 4.8.7: GAP scan of AS16-118-18888

Having stated that Australia is clearly in view, the casual observer would have trouble identifying its location. Ironically the process used to enhance the clarity of the weather systems on the image has made the continents and some clouds around the terminator less visible, but they are there.

Although only the clouds arrowed in green are specifically pointed out, there are a number of clouds in this image that are visible in the preceding one, notably the band of cloud below the system identified in green, and the band of cloud above the system identified in yellow. Those clouds picked out by the blue, magenta and red arrows have been identified because they are likely to appear in the subsequent image.

The most relevant ESSA track for this image would be around track number 6. This corresponds to orbit number 4311, commenced at 01:02 on the 17th. As has already been established, this is consistent with an image dated the previous day. The position of Australia, and the location of India on the western limb without any suggestion of Arabia in the image points to a time at the terminator of around 05:30 on the 17th. Again, we have to allow for the position of Stellarium's observer position and that of the Apollo craft and use the terminator as the reference wherever possible. It’s worth mentioning that the image enhancing done has acted to move the terminator position quite some distance, and the reader is respectfully referred to the original.

AS16-118-18889 (source: AIA) sees the Earth smaller still, and is becoming increasingly difficult in the low resolution images at the AIA to spot specific weather patterns without zooming in close. This image is shown below in figure 4.8.8 and analysed in figure 4.8.9.

Figure 4.8.8: GAP scan of AS16-118-18889

Figure 4.8.9: AS16-118-18889 compared with ESSA 9 mosaic, with Stellarium estimate of time at terminator.


On the face of it, AS16-118-18888 and 9 seem identical, but in reality they are just taken a short while apart. The change in terminator is only slight, but the time of this second image can be put at around 06:00 on the 17th. This can be demonstrated by a close examination of the system identified in red in figures 4.8.7 and 4.8.9 (see figure 4.8.10).

Figure 4.8.10: AS16-118-18888 (top) compared with AS16-118-18889 (bottom)

The differences are subtle but nonetheless there. There is a different shoreline configuration in the later as Arabia comes into view, and the system picked out in red is both further in from the western limb and is slightly less elongated. In fact, there is not a single cloud on the image that is exactly the same, although they are recognisably the same weather patterns. The magenta arrowed system is also noticeably further around in the second photograph. As with the preceding sections, this provides ample evidence (again) of a rotating, dynamic Earth photographed from space.

The next in the sequence of Apollo images is AS16-118-18890 (source: AIA), which is shown below in figure 4.8.11 and analysed overleaf in figure 4.8.12.

Figure 4.8.11: High resolution GAP image of AS16-118-18890.

As north America is now visible on the image, it is obviously a photograph taken much later than the previous one, and the terminator estimate puts the time at around 23:00. The weather patterns are a clear and obvious match for those on the ESSA image dated the 17th.  ESSA's most representative orbit for this area is orbit number 4320 (track 3), commenced at 19:09 on the 17th. Even with only half the digitally restored data to play with the match is excellent.

The entrance to inner earth (green arrow) has now completely broken up, showing once and for all that it was never anything other than a weather system, and the clouds that made up its eastern wall has moved onwards to become a clearly defined weather front (blue arrow).

A couple of hours before this photograph was taken at about 20:30 on the 17th, there is a conversation between Capcom and Apollo, where the command module pilot says:

"I think one of the most impressive sights...is the cloud formations you can see and polar icecap"

and then the lunar module pilot says that:

“There was that awful big storm up off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea, I guess it was yesterday. I can't see that now though.”

The storm to which he refers is the one forming the 'entrance to the hollow Earth' jokingly referred to here. Interestingly, Capcom report that their weather charts don't extend that far, as they only cover the landing area for splashdown.

The final image in this sequence on magazine 118 is AS16-118-18891 (source: AIA), seen in figure 4.8.13, and analysed in figure 4.8.14.

Figure 4.8.13: High resolution GAP scan of AS16-118-18891

Figure 4.8.14: AS16-118-18891 compared with ESSA mosaic and ATS-3 image, with Stellarium insert showing time at terminator above. Right is 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.

This image of Earth is only slightly more rotated than the previous one in the magazine, but the weather patterns are very obviously different and the Earth is much smaller in the image. There are two possible explanations: either NASA got sloppy and forgot to consult their continuity people before using this one, or it is just over 24 hours since the preceding image was taken.

The satellite images act to confirm that the image is actually taken 24 hours later. The ATS-3 image was featured in the MWL as part of their summary of the month's weather, and is part of a discussion of the large storm close to northern Europe. The tail end of this storm is picked out in red on the photographs. The ATS-3 image was taken at 17:05 on the 18th. On the 17th, this storm can be seen in ESSA images in a different place, and is not as cohesive as in this photograph (see figure 4.8.15).

The ESSA track best matching the terminator area is number 3, which corresponds to orbit number 4333 commenced at 20:08. Stellarium's terminator estimate is 22:30. According to the mission transcript, the crew were preparing for a UV photography session at this time, and Capcom confirm them as being over Florida at that time. Everything therefore points to the date being the 18th.

Figure 4.8.15: ESSA 9 mosaics of Atlantic storm on April 17th (top) and 18th (bottom).

The next image to be examined is AS16-120-19187 (source: AIA), which is shown figure 4.8.16 below and analysed in figure 4.8.17.

Figure 4.8.16: GAP scan of AS16-120-19187

Figure 4.8.18: High resolution GAP scan of AS16-113-18289

Figure 4.8.26 High resolution GAP scan of AS16-122-19564.

Figure 4.8.27 AS16-122-19564 compared with ESSA 9 mosaic, and an Earthview terminator set at 02:15 on 25/04/72.


As with previous missions where the Earth is a thin crescent, it does become more difficult to determine exactly when it was taken, and which weather systems on the ESSA mosaic match those on the Apollo image purely on the basis of the Earth photograph.

In this case there is some documentary evidence in the mission transcript and the photo index. The latter suggests that the image was taken during TEI in the early hours of the 25th (02:15 to be precise) – something the thickness of the crescent would support. The mission transcript records a conversation with Capcom at AOS after the TEI burn:

“We got some pictures of Earthrise as we were climbing out”

02:15 has therefore been used as the benchmark for the Earthview image. With this knowledge in hand, it is possible to identify the dark area of the visible crescent as the California coastline (blue arrow). This then allows what cloud systems that are visible to be placed on the ESSA mosaic. That mosaic's best fit track around the terminator would be number 4, or orbit 4409, commenced at 22:09 on the 24th.  As always with thin crescent images, it is difficult to be absolutely certain that the cloud patterns identified on the photograph are the same as those on the ESSA mosaic, but the supporting evidence of the photo index and mission transcript do help.

One final, very fleeting image of earth can be found in the 16mm footage (available here). Immediately after shots of the returning ascent module docking with the CSM, there is a short sequence of shaky, hand held footage taken from lunar orbit (this in itself should be evidence of enough, as it shows features not visible form Earth yet is being filmed by a person, shown reflected in the CSM window). The curvature is pronounced, but there is no complete disk shown. As there is footage shortly after this of a complete lunar disk, it is likely to have been filmed around TEI.

Earth appears in shot for only a few frames, and there are no discernible surface features, but the size of the crescent is entirely consistent with the view that should be seen from the Moon at TEI. A still from the video is shown below in figure 4.8.28 and the reader is referred to figure 4.8.27’s representation of the Earth crescent that should be visible.

Figure 4.8.28: Screenshot from Apollo 16 16mm footage showing Earth at around the time of TEI.


There are no other images available of Earth in the visible spectrum, but there are some taken in the UV spectrum in TLC.


4.8.2 UV photography in TLC

UV images were taken during TLC and were originally analysed from magazine 131 at the AIA (Source: AIA). There are several series of UV images taken through a number of filters. A new source for these images (archive.gov) revealed higher quality images than were previously available at the AIA. and the analysis has been redone to use the new versions. The aim of the photography was to use comparisons with colour Earth images to allow better interpretation of images of Mars and Venus (see here for more).

The first of these is AS16-131-20100 (source: Archive.gov), which is seen together with the weather analysis in figure 4.8.29 and 4.8.30 respectively.

Figure 4.8.29: AS16-131-20100.

Figure 4.8.30: AS16-131-20100 compared with ESSA 9 image from April 16th. Arrows used match figure 4.8.5


The satellite images show the same weather patterns in the UV image as the visible spectrum one, so the conclusion that they were taken at roughly the same time seems entirely reasonable. There are also mentions in the mission transcript. At 6 hours 40 minutes, the crew get a reminder about settings for the UV camera, and at 07:19 hours in they discuss a checklist they will attend to after the photographs. Five minutes later they appear to discuss that checklist. This would put the time at around 01:15 on the 17th, the same time as that estimated time for figure 4.8.5. This would match up with the stated intention to match UV images with at least one Apollo image for comparative purposes. The images taken are compared in the Preliminary Science Report (page 17-3).

The second of the UV sets looked at will use AS16-131-20115 (Source: Archive.gov), see figures 4.8.31 and 4.8.33, and shows the Earth as a much smaller target in the photograph.

Figure 4.8.31: AS16-131-20115

Figure 4.8.32: AS16-131-20115 compared with ESSA 9 mosaic dated April 16th – arrows used match figure 4.8.9


The observant will already have noticed that this UV image bears a striking resemblance to figures 4.8.7 and 4.8.9, where again there is a colour photograph that can be used in comparison with the UV one. There are again references in the mission transcript at the time this image was taken.

At 11:01 Capcom tell the crew that they specifically want UV images taken at the time dictated by the flight programme: 12:20 hours in to the mission, or about 06:15 GMT, and comments made at 12:22 hours suggest that the photography is progress. The position of the terminator close to Australia in figure 4.8.9 suggested a time of around 06:00 on the 17th, so there is again a good correspondence there.

The final UV image worth looking at is the third is AS16-131-20116 (source: Archive.gov). On the face of it there is very little detail there, but close examination does reveal that weather systems identified in figure 4.8.12.

Figure 4.8.33 shows the original image, and figure 4.8.34 the weather analysis.

Figure 4.8.34 AS16-131-20116 compared with ESSA mosaic from 17/04/72.


Once the weather patterns have been pointed out, it becomes obvious that they are the same as picked out in the colour Apollo picture from April 17th. Figure 4.8.12 puts the time at the terminator as about 23:00, and the mission transcript gives just one clue that that is about the same time as this image. At 29 hours 11 minutes the crew state that they are going into the correct attitude for UV photography, and this would equate to 23:05 GMT.

The newly available higher resolution images mean one more set is available for examination, and the best of those is AS16-131-20125. This is shown below in figure 4.8.35 and analysed in figure 4.8.36.


Figure 4.8.42: German (top left) and NOAA (bottom) synoptic charts for April 16 1972 compared with AS16-118-18885.


Time differences between the charts, and differences in interpretation of the meteorological data from which the charts are derived account for the differences between them, but the broad patterns are consistent: the complex low towards Alaska, and two broad frontal areas acting as boundaries for the USA, leaving the continent largely clear, other than the complex system towards the east coast.

The second day's charts cover April 17th (see figure 4.8.43). In this image, showing much less of the globe overall thanks to the change in relative position of the Apollo craft, compares the synoptic data with AS16-118-18890.

Figure 4.8.43: German (top left) and NOAA (bottom) synoptic charts for April 17 1972 compared with AS16-118-18885.


The frontal systems here are relatively straightforward, although whether the yellow arrowed system on the NOAA charts is just a continuation of the one identified in magenta is one for debate. Either way there is a system in blue across the south east, green starting out in the Pacific, and the magenta one across Canada. All of these also appear on the Apollo image.

The next day's image is covered by AS16-118-18891, and is examined in figure 4.8.44.

Figure 4.8.44: German (top left) and NOAA (bottom) synoptic charts from April 18 1972 compared with AS16-118-18891.


Sadly the main feature of the weather on the 18th, the 'monster' storm featured in the MWL doesn't show on the NOAA chart, but the yellow arrow indicates the tail end of it on the German and Apollo parts of the figure. The magenta arrowed front is the one crossing the USA in the Apollo image.

The charts from the 19th are compared in figure 4.8.45 with AS16-120-19187.

Figure 4.8.45: German (top left) and NOAA (bottom) synoptic charts from April 19 1971 compared with AS16-120-19187. Cyan arrow shows the ITCZ.


The main feature evident here is the front crossing the USA, with an offshoot to the south, that is covered by 3 different coloured arrows, and this is easy to identify on all 3 of the composite parts of the figure above.

The final day's synoptic chart analysis is for April 20th, and uses AS16-113-18269. This is shown in figure 4.8.46.

Figure 4.8.46: German (top left) and NOAA (bottom) synoptic charts from April 20 1972 compared with AS16-113-18269. Cyan represents the ITCZ.


Again, there may be differences in interpretation between meteorologists, but there is a broad consensus that coincides with the features shown by the Apollo image.

Another mission where the Apollo images, satellite photographs, video screenshots and synoptic charts all tell a consistent story: the photographs were taken in space on the way to and back from the Moon.

Figure 4.8.4: GAP scan of AS16-118-18887

Figure 4.8.24: Video still from the Apollo 16 LRV TV camera. Source. The orientation is correct for Apollo 16’s landing area south of the lunar equator.

Despite adjusting the brightness levels to improve clarity it isn’t easy to make things out. We can say with certainty that the view is entirely consistent with what should be visible in terms of the shape of the Earth and its terminator. At the time of the broadcast that terminator line should be cutting a path just off the eastern US coast and off the western coast of South America. That being the case it seems reasonable to suggest that the red arrow points to the cloud mass covering most of the eastern USA.

The yellow arrow marks the cloud running across the southern Pacific, with a clear area above it definitely visible as a blue area. The green, magenta and blue arrows are my suggestion as to what other systems are visible, but the image is too over-exposed to be absolutely certain. The scene is, however, consistent with what should be there. The 3D reconstruction also helps to confirm that the weather view is accurate.

ESSA’s view of the terminator is best covered by track 4 which would have been orbit 4360, commenced at 22:05 on the 21st.

EVA-2 has a similar sequence showing Earth broadcast live in TV, and thanks to the transcript we can place it very precisely in terms of time at 23:27 GMT on April 22nd.

Figure 4.8.22 shows a screenshot from this broadcast.

Figure 4.8.25: Video still compared with Earthview projection of what should be visible on 24/04/72 at 01:30 (left) the ESSA satellite photograph dated the 23rd, and 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.

Once the orientation of the photograph is matched with the known orientation of the Earth at the time it was taken it is possible to start looking at whether the ESSA image matches up.

The details are admittedly not as clear as would be preferred, but i believe the inferences I have made to be not unreasonable. There is a broad band of cloud around the equator, with clear ocean to the south. Given that the satellite photograph precedes the Apollo shot by several hours, it is again not unreasonable that the green arrow points to the same storm system in both images. Likewise the band of white in the southern hemisphere temperate zone.

Even a blurry, low quality image from a TV broadcast sent from the moon has enough information in it to identify features supporting the fact that that is where it was: on the moon.

Only one more colour image of Earth is available. AS16-122-19564 (source: AIA) is part of a sequence of 4 over-exposed shots of a crescent Earth rising over the lunar horizon. The crescent phase already places it towards the end of the mission, and there are several photographs of the ascent component of the LM earlier on in the magazine. The remaining images in the magazine show an increasingly curved lunar horizon indicative of a post TEI photography session.

Figure 4.8.26 shows a high resolution version of this image, and figure 4.8.27 shows this crescent earth that has had the levels, brightness and contrast adjusted in comparison with the ESSA 9. Earthview has been used to provide a horizon as it shows a clearer view of the landmasses.

Figure 4.8.20: Screenshots of Earth from the end of EVA-1’s TV broadcast

Figure 4.8.22: Screenshot from TV broadcast at the end of EVA-2

As before the image quality isn’t crystal sharp, but we’ll have a look at what we can make out in terms of atmospheric detail in figure 4.8.23.

When the crew woke up before EVA-2 they were actually broadcasting to Australia’s Honeysuckle Creek, but by the time this TV view happened they had Houston in sight. It’s pretty obvious that the crescent Earth is the same size as it should be according to Stellarium, and the arrows in figure 4.8.24 show that the areas of cloud and clear are matched in the ESSA and Apollo TV view. As usual with this view, we are looking at ESSA track 3, which is orbit 4303, commenced at 20:02 on the 22nd. If you don’t think the view shows the same weather, then you are of course welcome to provide your own interpretation.

We do have a final image of Earth taken from the lunar surface, again showing it through the eyes of the Lunar Rover’s TV camera - this time shortly after the ascent module take off. The image is given at Honeysuckle Creek’s website and it takes place at the end of the TV broadcast of the ascent module lift off. We can time it fairly precisely as the crew tell Houston that a guidance tweak has been completed at 175:43, or 01:37 on the 24th.

While this part of the broadcast is not normally found on youtube, I have been able to acquire a copy from Honeysuckle Creek and can confirm that this is when the still was taken. I have stacked about 10 seconds worth of footage and combined them to produce a cleaned up version of the image (just as Honeysuckle Creek did with their version).

The original Honeysuckle Creek image is shown below in figure 4.8.24 Figure 4.8.25 shows my ‘stacked’ image taken from the video frames supplied by Honeysuckle on the left superimposed with an Earthview screenshot set at 01:30 on the 24th, made transparent so that the video can be seen beneath it. Next to that is the video still compared with the ESSA imagery dated 23rd, whose timings put it about 3 hours ahead of the Apollo broadcast.

Figure 4.8.35: AS16-131-20125 (Source)

Figure 4.8.33: AS16-131-20116

Figure 4.8.1b: AS16-118-18873 (top right) compared with Mission Control screen image. Full image is top left, zoomed and brightness adjusted centre left: Source. Below right is a photograph taken by a TV viewer during the broadcast (Source), and a different one from another TV viewer next to that (source).


The time is clearly shown on the news broadcast as 5:48 on April 16th. The timestamp itself is actually added as part of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, which recorded all news transmissions at the time, and did not feature in the actual broadcast. The broadcast time relates to the Central Daylight Time zone of the NBC nightly news broadcast, which started at 17:30 CDT. The Vanderbilt archive has this link about the transmission. Interestingly, for all that Apollo deniers claim the missions were aimed at diverting interest from Vietnam, the war dominated the news program before the Apollo segment.

The shot was taken at the end of the Apollo TV transmission after docking, and the much reduced size of the Earth shows the speed at which they were travelling, and the news broadcast records that they are already 7000 miles out. The Apollo transmission ended at 21:22 GMT, or 16:22 EDT, with a second short 10 minute broadcast starting at 22:04 GMT (17:04 CDT), still in time for the TV news broadcast. While the label ‘Live from space’ is true in terms of it being broadcast from space, it is not strictly true for the news broadcast itself. The inset in 4.8.1b is a photograph of a TV taken during the broadcast.

As for what is in the image, the most obvious feature is the large 'speech bubble' shape (green arrow) off the east coast of north America, and all of the other cloud features match perfectly between the TV, Apollo and satellite images. In terms of when the image was taken, we already have a definite match for the video screenshots, and therefore the Apollo image. Another interesting feature is that although the TV image was taken later, the ‘speech bubble is further from the edge of the globe. As the Earth can’t have gone backwards, the spacecraft must have changed its viewing perspective.

The ESSA track covering the east coast of the USA would have been orbit 4308 (track number 3), which started at 20:06. So, at the time of the Apollo images there was actually no satellite mosaic of the region photographed, and ESSA 9 could not, therefore, have been used as the basis for some sort of fake of the Apollo photograph. In order to demonstrate that ESSA 8, or ATS-3 images could have been used (remember both of these sent back black & white images), you would have to have the original source material, which at present are not available. Even ATS-3, which took half an hour to transmit its images, would have been had to have finished transmitting just as the news footage was obtained, then processed into a whole image, then converted to colour, all inside 25 minutes. Given the technology available this was just not possible.

This image occurs after a series of pictures showing the LM thrusters, now docked with the CSM, and the empty SIV-B carcass, which immediately puts the timeframe for the photograph at after 21:53 on the 16th. There is one more image of the SIV-B after this, then a sequence of Earth images showing an ever decreasing disk. The original GAP image is shown below in figure 4.8.2, and the analysis in figure 4.8.3.

It is unsurprising, given that the image was taken not long after the preceding Apollo photograph analysed, that the same broad weather patterns are visible. Even with the poor quality of the video screenshot, it is still possible to work out that the globe has rotated somewhat, as much more of the Pacific is visible, and the polar cloud mass has moved much further eastwards.

Also coming into view is a large hole in the Arctic cloud (yellow arrow). This feature is interesting because other conspiracy theorists suggest it shows the polar opening to a hollow earth, for example here and here. The tone of some of the articles makes it clear that they don't like using Apollo evidence, because they are forced to admit that the Apollo missions took place! It should be obvious that hole is at neither the magnetic nor geographic pole, and the sea can be seen, not a hole!

The ESSA timings have already been given in the previous image, and the timing of the East coast of the US part of the image would have been around 20:06. The terminator in the image is suggested to be at 22:00, just after the CSM had extracted the LM from the SIV-B.

The next few images of Earth are all from the same sequence of photographs in magazine 118. AS16-118-18887 (source: AIA). This image is shown in figure 4.8.4 below. Comparison with the ESSA mosaic is undertaken in figure 4.8.5a.

The Apollo image shows that the Earth has rotated by some distance since the previous photograph, with more of the Pacific visible, and more than half of the northern USA now in darkness. Australia is about to come into view, and the long band of cloud extending from the Arctic towards it is now more prominent, thanks to a change in viewpoint. The entrance to Earth's hollow interior [sic] is also much more in focus, and it should be even more obvious that it is just a gap in the clouds, with other, lower altitude clouds inside it. We can even demonstrate that it’s a dynamic system, changing over even just the few hours covering a small number of Apollo image. Figure 4.8.5b shows AS16-118-18876, which was taken shortly after separation form the SIV-B but before docking with the LM (judging by the images surrounding it, so it must have been taken between 21:00 and 21:15 on the 16th.


The Apollo photograph is a lone image of Earth on a magazine otherwise dominated by photographs of the lunar surface. Its appearance as a half illuminated disk immediately points to it being relatively early in the lunar portion of the mission.

Again this image shows north America, and again the weather patterns are considerably different to those featured on the previous day's images. A notable system is the circular 'bullseye' pattern south of Alaska that is very evident on the Apollo and ESSA pictures. The globe is rotated slightly more than in previous ones showing the same broad area, and less of south America is visible. The terminator time here shows 23:00 GMT on the 19th, and this is supported by the ESSA orbit covering north America (track 4) number 4346 commencing at 21:06.

More support for this timing comes from the mission transcript. At the beginning of their second orbit at 77 hours in to the mission (22:54 GMT on the 19th), the crew tell Capcom that they have

 “just got the 10000th picture of a beautiful Earthrise.”

The number 10000 is obviously an exaggeration, but AS16-120-19187 was pretty obviously that image.

The next Apollo picture to be looked at, AS16-113-18289 (source: ALSJ) is one of a series of the most spectacular Apollo images, showing the CSM on the lunar horizon as the Earth rises behind it. It is, therefore, taken from the lunar module after separation from the CSM (the first half a dozen photographs in this magazine are of the CSM immediately after separation) but before the landing. This puts a timeframe for the image of between 18:07 on the 20th, and 02:23 on the 21st.

The image is shown below in figure 4.8.18, and analysed in figure 4.8.19.

Since the last photograph Earth has moved on again, and once again north America is the focus of the image with a different set of weather patterns, all of which match up with the satellite images taken on the same day, the 20th. Fixing the time by Stellarium shows a time of roughly 20:00, as the US west coast is not yet visible, but most of south America is. ESSA's orbit for that time would have commenced at 20:00 (track 3, orbit 4358), so there is a perfect reason for a good match.

There is also support for this time estimate from the mission transcript. While it is not specifically mentioned, revolution 13 began at 97 hours and 48 minutes, or 19:42, with radio contact re-established with Houston about 20 minutes later. The photo index for Apollo 16 (source: ALSJ) states that this Earthrise sequence took place on revolution 12, but this is likely to be a difference in interpretation as to when orbit 12 ended and 13 started. Certainly the first image after the Earthrise sequence (of the CSM) is marked as being on orbit 13. It can't have been at the start of orbit 12, as this would have Africa in view, and very little of north America.

The next available image of Earth actually has to wait until the end of the first EVA, and comes courtesy of the rover’s TV camera.

At 125:21, or about 23:15 on the 21st, Ed Fendell turns the camera towards Earth and zooms in on it. Houston communicates this to Young and Duke:

125:21:33 England: Hey, fellows, we're able to see the Earth with your big eye there.

125:21:39 Duke: How about that. Pretty sight, isn't it?

125:21:43 England: Sure is. Man, that's weird.

The video itself can be found here.

Figure 4.8.20 shows a clip from this link, as well as one provided by Retro Space Images Facebook page showing a photograph taken at the time indicating that it was a TV broadcast. Figure 4.8.21 analyses the view.

 Figure 4.8.0c: AS116-18859 (left) compared with the same area of AS16-118-18870 (centre), and an indication of where that area is in the latter (right)


The area show is much bigger and the horizon much more curved, so it must have been taken after the TLI burn.

The next image to be examined is from a TV broadcast, and will also include an Apollo image that does not show the full Earth disc.

At 3 hours and 10 minutes into the mission (21:04 GMT) the crew started a TV transmission to cover the docking of the CSM with the LM. 15 minutes after starting the transmission, the crew have this to say:

“Houston before we turn the TV off...we want to give a picture of the Earth”

Capcom confirm they are receiving the image,

"very nice picture Charlie, we can see south-Western United States, Lower California. Very nice."

and also confirm that it is in colour. A few moments later the Apollo crew describe the view from 7000 miles out:

“...you just can't believe how beautiful it is. See the reds in the desert down there and the southern United States and northern parts of Mexico. And from here, you see the Great Lakes and the State of Florida out there. And it's just absolutely something.”

At 21:22 GMT, the TV pictures finished.

These TV images were used a short while later in a NBC news broadcast, available here:  Apollo 16 News Broadcast.

Amusingly, the TV broadcaster's voice, commenting on the pictures says that:

“if my calculations are correct, the North Pole is to the right.. the Earth is tipped on its side”

He's correct about the Earth being viewed sideways on, but has got the location of the North Pole entirely wrong!

Two screenshots from this footage are given in figure 4.8.1a. One has been chosen purely because it has the words ''Live from Space' on it. The other one is from a couple of seconds later but covers more of the Earth's surface. This is combined with the ESSA 9 mosaic from the 16th, and also AS16-118-18873 (source: AIA). This is not a full disk but is obviously taken at the same time. There are numerous small particles visible in the photograph from the explosive separation of the SIV-B petals to expose the LM, particles referred to by the crew just after starting their TV broadcast:

“We must have a zillion particles along with us”

This image precedes the docking, as photos later in the magazine show the LM still within the SIV-B. Figure 4.8.1b shows the same scene as viewed on a screen in Mission Control, although much more of Earth is visible.

Figure 4.8.3: AS16-118-18885 compared with ESSA 9 satellite mosaic from 16/04/72. Stellarium image shows time at terminator. Right is a 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.

Figure 4.8.5a: AS16-118-18887 compared with ESSA 9 mosaic. Stellarium image shows terminator estimate. Right is a 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data. Yellow, Blue, Green, Magenta, Red and Cyan arrows are as in figure 4.8.3.

Figure 4.8.7: AS16-118-18888 compared with ESSA 9 mosaic and Stellarium inset showing terminator time estimate. Green arrow is as used in figure 4.8.5. Right is a 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.

Figure 4.8.9: AS16-118-18889 compared with ESSA 9 mosaic, with Stellarium estimate of time at terminator. Right is a 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.


Figure 4.8.12: AS16-118-18890 compared with ESSA 9 mosaic and Stellarium estimate of time at terminator. Partial 3D reconstruction of digitally restored ESSA data to the right.

Figure 4.8.17: AS16-120-19187 compared with ESSA mosaic, and Stellarium inset showing time at terminator. Right is a 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.

Figure 4.8.19: AS16-113-18289 compared with ESSA mosaic and Stellarium terminator estimate. Right is a 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.

Figure 4.8.21: Screenshot from Apollo 16 TV broadcast compared with ESSA images from 21/04/71. Right is a 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.


Figure 4.8.23: Top row - Stellarium view at terminator (left) at 23:24 22/04/72, TV broadcast (centre) and ESSA view (right). Right is a 3D reconstruction using digitally restored ESSA data.


4.8 Apollo 16

Apollo 16 saw another lunar rover head for the moon, this time in an exploration of the lunar highlands. It again involved several EVAs and the use of a CSM SIM bay to record experimental data in orbit while the LM carried its duties on the surface. UV photography was again employed to take images of Earth on the way to the Moon, and also from the lunar surface.

Even before this mission had begun, news reports were full of the next phase of NASA's space programme: the shuttle, and discussions on what to do with redundant launch towers were already under way. The economic cost of Apollo was freely discussed in these news programmes, and the perceived benefits of LEO satellite programmes became much more prominent in the discussions compared with the less immediately useful scientific data.

The flight was intended to launch in March, but technical problems with an explosive separation bolt between the LM and CSM forced a delay. The crew finally lifted off on April 16th 1972 and entered lunar orbit on the 19th. Landing did not occur until the 21st after more technical problems with the CSM engines caused a day's delay. After eventually landing and carrying out 3 EVAs, the surface crew were re-united with the orbiting CSM on the 24th. TEI occurred the next day, and the astronauts finally splashed down on the 27th. On the way back a televised EVA was carried out to retrieve data from the SIM bay, and an unmanned TV broadcast was also made from the lunar surface.

The mission timeline can be found here: NASA source.

As far as mission photographs go, the AIA records that the Hasselblads took 22 magazines if film, with a total of 2808 photographs exposed. An additional magazine comprises the far right UV spectrum long exposure images taken from the surface.

As with Apollo 15 & 14, no high resolution images are stored at the AIA. The GAP has been used instead to request the images used here.

In terms of availability of satellite images, only ESSA 9 photographs have a full catalogue online, available here: NOAA. ATS-3 images were still being transmitted, and one can be found here: ATS-3 image in the MWL for April 18th. An ESSA 8 image for launch day can be found here: MWR, in an interesting article about the ARIA (Apollo Range Instrumented Aircraft) that collected meteorological data in support of Apollo missions. ARIA is mentioned several times in the early part of the mission in Earth orbit (see the Mission Transcript here: ALSJ), acting as a relay between receiving stations on the ground.

The ESSA image in the article was taken on launch day, but unfortunately the area of the south Pacific shown is not covered by any of the photographs from that day. Understandably, the crew will have been a little busy at TEI and would not have had the time to photograph it.

4.8.1 Satellite data

In a break with the usual format of these sections, the first images don’t show a full Earth. The first one is from Earth orbit and is included purely because of something small but significant above the horizon. AS16-118-18858 is the second image taken in the magazine. At 01:10 into the mission, Mattingley says this:

001 10 20 Mattingly (onboard): I thought I saw - maybe that was Hawaii. Huh? I thought I saw some land down there.

And at 01:29, answering questions about what he’s been photographing we have this

001 29 29 Young (onboard): No, I took two, one of which was the - No, that was the - it was the thunderstorm that really            attracted me down there…

Shortly before this he references the coast of Baja California being visible, so we know that somewhere between Hawaii and California they photograph the storm in 18858. Between these two times we have:

001 16 15 Young (onboard): …there's the Moon.

001 16 20 Duke (onboard): Where?

001 16 21 Young (onboard): Out the front window.

And then

001 22 28 Young (onboard): That's 10,000 pictures of horizons and sunrises. I got a picture of the Moon out there [garble]            coming up.

Careful examination of AS16-118-18858 shows that this is the photograph of moonrise that he took. Figure 4.8.0a shows the details.

Figure 4.8.0b: AS16-118-18870 compared with ESSA image and 3D reconstruction


The 3D comparison is absolutely spot on, and we it is very obviously the same planet on view on both. We can confirm that it is taken after TLI by comparing it with an image take on the first orbit of Earth, AS16-118-18859 (figure 4.8.0c).



Figure 4.8.5b: AS16-118-18876 (top left) and in close up (top right) compared with the same area of AS16-118-18885 (bottom left) and AS16-118-18887 (below right)


There is a relatively short gap between 18876 and 18885 (about 45 minutes) so there is very little difference between them (though they can be detected on close examination). The 3 hours or so between 18885 and 18887 produces a much more obvious change.

Returning to the analysis, the terminator position gives an estimated time of about 01:15 on the 17th of April, as determined by its location through California and Mexico. ESSA's orbits mean that track 4 would be closest to the terminator visible here, which equates to orbit number 4309, which was commenced at 23:01. Note the position of Australia in Stellarium, but absent in the Apollo image, which is again the effect of Stellarium's lunar viewpoint instead of Apollo's TLC position pointing at where the moon will eventually be. The Preliminary Science Report confirms the time of the photograph as being circa 8 hours in to the mission (page 17-3), as do the transcripts, which discusses taking matching ultra-violet photographs at this time.

In the next image in the sequence, AS16-118-18858 (source: AIA), figure 4.8.6, the Earth has shrunk considerably, and once the image is zoomed in there is again evidence of a rotating globe, not a static image in repeated use. Australia is now in full view, and south east Asia is visible beneath the clouds. The entrance to inner Earth has now almost disappeared from view completely. Figure 4.8.7 examines the weather patterns visible in ESSA's mosaic in comparison with this image.

The timings of the astronaut’s comments suggests the photographs were taken nearer to Baja California than Hawaii, but it is shown in the Celestia view purely to indicate that where it would have been in the sky for the crew. The other Celestia depiction is more realistic, but the proximity of it means the moon is much higher in the sky. The storms are therefore somewhere between Hawaii and Baja, and the moon is in exactly the right place and configuration in the sky for that.

Moving on the meteorological study, the first one we examine here appears to have been taken just after TLI (given the amount of curvature visible). Figure 4.8.0b shows AS16-118-18870 compared with the ESSA view from above and with a 3D reconstruction.

Figure 4.8.0a: AS16-118-18858 (top left). Detail from that image top centre, and Stellarium view of the moon from that time top right. Above is a Celestia depiction of the moon from orbit above Hawaii with Baja California on the horizon. Right is a Celestia view from a lower altitude approaching Baja California.

Figure 4.8.36: AS16-131-20125 compared with ESSA mosaic and ATS-3 image


The UV image here is taken at the same time as AS16-118-18891 (see figure 4.8.14), and while the level of detail is nothing like the same as the colour photograph, the same cloud patterns can still be seen in it once you know what to look for.

We have one final session of UV photography, this time taken on the way home and in fact almost there. The session occurred at 16:44 on April 27th, and figure 4.8.37 (derived from the astronomy app ‘Sky Safari’) shows where Apollo 16 was at that time, together with a Fourmilab projection of the Earth’s sunlit area.

Figure 4.8.37: Models of Earth from the time of the final UV session


The models above indicate that the terminator is running down the centre of Africa, and only a thin sliver of daylight would have been visible. Shortly after the photography, Young confirms what they could see:

10:23:15:46 CDR Hank, we got the Earth out of window 5. It's a very thin crescent and the subsolar point is spectacularly bright.

Figure 4.8.38 shows the view of Earth taken by Apollo during that session together with satellite views.

Figure 4.8.38: AS16-131-20182 (top left) and a contrast adjusted portion of it (top right) compared with ESSA views from the same day (eft) and a 3D reconstruction (right). Above is a Celestia reconstruction from the same date and time

As the Apollo image shows what appears to be a bright cloudy area in the centre line of the image, it’s tempting to interpret this is the ITCZ line along the equator. The views from the astronomy app and Celestia seem to confirm that this is the case, however given that this is a UV image and bearing in mind Young’s comments, it’s equally likely that we are seeing the flare from the subsolar point reflecting from a bright Sahara.

The UV images are therefore consistent with both the colour photographs that were evidently taken at the same time, and with the ESSA satellite images taken on Earth some time later.

As with Apollo 12, we have one final element to the story that we can examine: views of Earth taken during re-entry, as visible on the 16mm magazine GG, available here.

The reference book Apollo by the numbers gives the re-entry location as -162.13, -19.87, with the eventual splashdown occurring at -156.22, -0.7. Those locations are shown in figure 4.8.39.



Figure 4.8.41: Selected re-entry screenshots.


As with other Earth re-entry footage, there isn’t much in the way of wider context views to be absolutely certain, but what we again have is a view that is not at all inconsistent with the satellite view, despite the 5 hour time gap.

The final section will deal with any available synoptic charts and compare those with the Apollo photographs.


4.8.3 Meteorological analyses

As with previous missions, the main sources of information for synoptic charts is the German and South African data held at NOAA, and the daily charts also held by NOAA. However, none of the Apollo images feature Africa, so only the German and NOAA daily charts can be used. The lack of Earth images available means that only 5 days are suitable for analysis. Launch day is the first for which charts are available, and figure 4.8.42 shows the weather charts in conjunction with AS16-118-18885.

Figure 4.8.39: Re-entry and splashdown point for Apollo 16.

The re-entry process is recorded as starting at 19:31 GMT on the 27th, which puts the nearest available satellite image as one commenced on the 27th, but with the relevant pass (number 6) starting at around 01:00 on the 28th. Figure 4.8.40 shows the ESSA image concerned.

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Figure 4.8.40: ESSA satellite image dated 27/04/72 with the re-entry trajectory superimposed.

Figure 4.8.41 shows selected screenshots from the re-entry sequence.