4.3.2 -  Apollo 11: Day 2, Trans-Lunar Coast

A few seconds into day 2 of the mission, as far as UTC timings are concerned, the crew began transmitting TV signals to Goldstone in California.  These TV images were sent to Houston one hour later - it isn’t clear when they were broadcast on TV. Press wire photographs (see figure suggest a 2 hour delay in sending the signal to Houston. The PAO commentary suggest 90 minutes to 2 hours.

The broadcast footage is easily found on Youtube, particularly if you search for ‘Apollo 11 Facts Project although the best quality source for download is archive.org. Figure is a screenshot of a camera test from the first broadcast, together with a SkySafari image showing the terminator line. The screenshot has had its resolution increased, the levels altered to provide more contrast and sharpened to improve the level of detail visible.

CATM Home OBM Home
CATM Home OBM Home

Figure Apollo 11 TV broadcast with SkySafari time & date. The same colours used in figure are used here.

A few minutes into the broadcast, Armstrong describes the view:

010:41:10 Armstrong: Roger. We're seeing the center of the Earth as viewed from the spacecraft in the eastern Pacific Ocean. We have not been able to visually pick up the Hawaiian Island chain, but we can clearly see the western coast of North America, the United States, the San Joaquin Valley, the High Sierras, Baja California, and Mexico down as far as Acapulco, and the Yucatan Peninsula; and you can see on through Central America to the northern coast of South America, Venezuela, and Colombia. I'm not sure you'll be able to see all that on your screens down there.

Close examination of the video stills and also the Apollo photograph taken at the end of day 1 shows that this is exactly what they should have been seeing.

The comparison of the TV screenshot and that Apollo still image is useful for two reasons. Firstly, the rotation of the Earth is clear in the hour between taking the image and the broadcast, showing that they were not taken at the same time. In fact, it’s even possible to detect rotation of the Earth from the start and end of the sequence, even if you only use the 15 or so minutes that they are at maximum (figure

Figure Screenshots taken at the start and end of maximum zoom from the unscheduled test transmission. The end screenshot (right) has been scaled and rotated to match the one from the start.

The best place to look is on the terminator, where it is clear that cloud masses have moved beyond during the broadcast.

The second, and by far the most important reason, relates to what is in these two images: Hurricane Bernice, the impressive depression referred to by Collins in EPO.

On July 8th 1969 a tropical depression began forming in the Pacific ocean. This depression strengthened to become a tropical storm, named Bernice, whose strength reached hurricane force on a number of occasions in its lifetime. By July 16th, Bernice was fading fast, and was reclassified again as a tropical depression off the coast of Guatemala.

Bernice's lifespan and development was widely reported in meteorological journals, and is referred to in the Eastern Pacific Hurricane season report, and in the Mariner's log cited earlier. References to Bernice are widely available elsewhere on the internet. This US navy document: Summary of Tropical Cyclones 1969 shows that 35 warnings were issued to shipping, and gives detailed information of the hurricane's track. Figure shows the storm's development as recorded in the hurricane season report. Figure clearly identifies Bernice's location on the Apollo image & TV broadcast, indicated by the blue arrow in the preceding figures.

Figure Left - Mariner's Weather Log 1969 reproduction of ESSA 9 images showing the development of Hurricane Bernice. Source given in text. Above - weather summary naming Bernice (LA Times, July 13th 1969)

Figure Close up of Hurricane Bernice from AS11-36-5330, with inset from ESSA 9 (left) and TV broadcast (right). TV screenshot has increased contrast to improve detail. Below this are views from newly restored NIMBUS-3 data. Note the time gap between images. At the very bottom left is the HRIR view, bottom right is the Temperature-Humidity infrared view 12 hours later where only the central core of the storm persists.

Hurricane Bernice is clearly identifiable on both the Apollo derived images, and suggests that the only place the image & TV footage could have been obtained is from cislunar space.  The filenames from the original sources reveal that the 6 restored NIMBUS images took a total of three and a half hours to photograph. The image centring on Bernice was done at 19:59 GMT.

As far as Hurricane Bernice is concerned, the irony here is that one of the most often quoted pieces of ‘evidence’ aimed at Apollo 11 (Bart Sibrel's 'A funny thing happened on the way to the moon' - Wikipedia entry) claims two things. Firstly, the in space footage was filmed in low Earth orbit made by hiding Earth behind a circular disk. Or something. Secondly, the image of Earth used in the broadcast was a fake. An image of Earth obtained from somewhere, but not actually filmed by the Apollo 11 crew. 

The first claim is obviously ridiculous, as low Earth orbit images can not show the entire disk - we’ve demonstrated this several times already. Satellites aiming for full disk coverage go for high Earth orbit at 22000 miles out.

The second claim shoots itself squarely and firmly in the foot by using video clips from the broadcast with Hurricane Bernice visible in them. Not just any footage of Hurricane Bernice, but specifically footage featuring Hurricane Bernice in a configuration that can only have been obtained on July 16th from space. It could not have been obtained anywhere else. Sibrel's own video contains the evidence that proves him completely wrong. He’s even taken to claiming that the Earth is actually a 1 foot wide model. Again, not physically possible to build that and skin it with a meteorology no-one knew existed. Is he suggesting they took a 1 foot model to LEO? Or he just bullshitting to sell his book to the stupid?

He also claims he was sent the footage ‘by mistake’. This is also garbage. He was sent it because he asked for it. The “Not for public distribution” message at the start is no different to the ones you see on any film DVD (remember those?).

As with Apollos 8 and 10, we have supporting evidence from the media of the day to prove that the image of Earth shown on the screen is contemporaneous and not in the least bit secret as Sibrel claims. Figure below shows the front page of a range of newspaper front pages, all of which feature the image, and some of which also feature commentary from the TV broadcast.

Figure Variety of newspaper front pages, various online sources, dated July 17th. The Mexican “El Universal” article Bottom left) is dated the 18th and is linked to a story about the Soviet Luna 15 probe. The Italian papers are also dated the 18th.

On the Coshocton Tribune page, available here, we are shown what is obviously a kinescope image of the Earth from the TV broadcast, and the newspaper is clearly dated the 17th of July.  It also says this as the caption:

"In an unscheduled telecast from space, Apollo 11 broadcast this view of the Earth back to earth-bound viewers Wednesday night."

As Coshocton’s local time is 5 hours behind GMT, the transmission to Earth of this view was at 19:00 local time, with actual transmission on the evening news schedules sometime after this - still in plenty of time for it to get in the next day’s newspaper. CBS news did have a broadcast at around 20:30, which would match with the availability of the footage (source). The book “The invasion of the moon 1969”, published in 1969 to capitalise on interest in the mission, states that this footage was released two hours after transmission, and also records the transcript quoted above. Claims by some hoaxers that this footage was a secret are clearly false. My own copy is dated by the original owners just one month after the mission, and contains many photographs and 16mm stills from it. Even the Coshocton Tribune describes the broadcast and what was said:

"Before retiring, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins beamed an unscheduled 10 1/2 minutes of television back to Earth. The pictures, taken nearly 60000 miles deep in space, showed a blue, green and white swirled Earth receding in the blackness of space behind the spacecraft. Armstrong said he could see the West Coast of North America, all of the United States and the northern top of South America from his 13 by 13 window"

Likewise the Evening News from New Jersey says this:

"With the Apollo ticking along smoothly, the crew presented an unscheduled 15-minute television travelogue featuring the Earth"

Before going on to quote the broadcast audio verbatim. The Palm Beach post confirms that the broadcast was recorded at Goldstone then relayed to Houston. The Daily News also has timings, saying that:

"While the astronauts rested, mission control treated the world to an unscheduled color TV show of the Earth as seen from some 60,000 miles in space. It had been taped by the Goldstone tracking station in California and was replayed at 9:45 pm New York time."

which is later than CBS’s news broadcast but still plenty of time to get into Thursday’s papers. All of the news papers reproduced here are dated the 17th, and all reference what was said in the broadcast, words that can be verified in the mission transcripts. It’s worth noting that the two Italian papers had less time available before going to press, hence their later date.

Figure shows the TV screenshot analysed earlier in comparison with the image reproduced on the front page of the Tribune the following day. While our image is much clearer, there are still obviously identifiable features on the newspaper’s rendering of the scene. On the right is a photograph actually taken of the TV during the broadcast, part of a set of slides sold on eBay. Also included is my own copy of a wire photograph, dated July 16th, together with other examples available online.

Figure Top row: Comparison of TV broadcast screenshot (left), image from Coshocton Tribune front page (centre) and photograph of TV screen (right - Part of a set sold on ebay). Bottom row: Press wire photographs taken from Apollo 11 TV broadcasts. Images found on eBay and are copyrighted by Argenta images (far left) and Historical Images (far right). My own personal copy is centre left, and my own copy from a souvenir edition of the Evening Standard dated 25/7/69 is centre right.

The ITCZ clouds running east – west, the north-south trending cloud off Asia in the west, and the distinctive curl of Hurricane Bernice are all easily visible and confirm we are looking at the same scene in all of the images.

This website Apollo TV Analysis  contains a much more thorough analysis of Sibrel's nonsense claims than will be covered here, and is the source of the screenshot images, as they are generally of better quality than those available elsewhere. What would be useful is to know exactly when the photographs examined above were first broadcast on TV, as this would allow us to definitely state that they could not have had a satellite image of the view with which to work. My suggestion is that it would have been highly unlikely, if not impossible. We can also confirm with certainty that contrary to Sibrel’s claims, the images were all public thanks to the book 10:56:20 Pm EDT 7/20/69: The Historic Conquest of the Moon As Reported to the American People by CBS News over the CBS Television Network, which was published in 1970 anda copy of which I own .

The book confirms that:

"On Apollo 11, the first "scheduled" transmission was in fact the third sent to Earth by Armstrong and his crew"

As part of a pictorial essay comprising photographs of the TV screen taken during the mission, it shows these images from the evening broadcast on Thursday the 17th, figure (from my own copy) that were edited in from the Wednesday night transmissions. To emphasize further the non-secret nature of the photographs, the Apollo image of Bernice was also used as the basis of the cover of the 1981 book ‘Trap for Perseus’ (see here).

Figure Images from CBS TV broadcast on 17/07/69. Source given in text.

In a massive display of irony, self-styled Apollo hoax guru Jarrah White managed to provide even more supporting evidence in his ‘Moonfaker: Exhibit B part 1’ by providing a photo showing Bernice in an Australian newspaper dated the 18th (see figure

Figure The West Australian, July 18th 1969 (source)

Jarrah gets all confused by the Julian date used in the image, which clearly identifies it as being taken on day 198, or July 17th. He confirms that the newspaper would have gone to print at around 9pm on the 17th, which is 8 hours ahead of GMT, meaning that it had 12 hours to get hold of the images. In a subsequent video he tries to explain away the confusion by not knowing if January first was day 0 or not. Since when was there a January the 0th? If he’d only looked at the news broadcasts instead of relying on compilation reels sent out after the missions he might not have shot himself in the foot so badly. On the other hand, he also wouldn’t have confirmed that the TV image was taken on the day it was always claimed to have been taken and appeared in an Australian newspaper, not kept a secret.

Naturally in the face of overwhelming evidence that they were not in LEO, and that the view was actually of a genuine entire Earth with temporally accurate weather patterns Sibrel’s defenders try and shift the goalposts. One of the hoax claimants makes this comment on a youtube video (figure

Close examination of the image shows that Australia has just started to appear, which would place the photograph at around 00:45, around 20 minutes after the TV broadcast ended.

Shortly after that, a final batch of photographs shows Bernice on the terminator. One example from that batch, AS11-36-5351, is shown in figure, and analysed in figure  

Figure AS11-36-5337, with SkySafari time estimate

Figure AS11-36-5351. Source

Figure ESSA-9 (left) and NIMBUS-3 (bottom left) images compared with AS11-36-5351. Centre row are newly restored ESSA (left) NIMBUS-3 image (

centret) and SkySafari time estimate.

A comparison of the terminator in AS11-36-5343 shows that it is slightly later than the TV screenshot, suggesting a time of around 01:00 on the 17th.

As with AS11-36-5343, it is worth zooming in on the clouds around the terminator to see the relief cast by the shadows on the clouds. The central portion of Hurricane Bernice is much more prominent, and the clouds to the south show lengthening shadows entirely consistent with early evening conditions. Although new weather systems have been brought into view by the Earth's rotation (magenta and purple arrows), and Australia is now clearly visible, all the other cloud patterns are identified using the same coloured arrows as the previous analysis.

The nearest ESSA track for the terminator region is still on the image dated the 16th, and was commenced at 20:07 (track 4, orbit 1755), compared with SkySafari's estimate of the time at terminator of around 02:30 on the 17th. NIMBUS' image is actually a composite of the final passes on the infra-red daytime image dated the 16th and the first infra-red daytime ones dated the 17th, with the orbit nearest the terminator being pass 1253, which commenced at 17:46 on the 16th. The newly restored mosaic is just from the 16th. The final part of the Pacific covered by NIMBUS would not have been covered until 04:30 on the 17th, 2 hours after the Apollo image was taken. Bernice was imaged at 19:59 by the IDCS NIMBUS camera.

The image after AS11-36-5351 was evidently taken some time later, as we now have Africa clearly in view in another identical series of photographs. AS11-36-5352 is shown below in figure, and analysed in figure

Figure AS11-36-5352 Source, and my personal copy of an original NASA image from later in the sequence, AS11-36-5355

Figure Main image shows ESSA-9 images dated 16/07/69  (top left upper & lower) and 17/07/69 (middle left), ATS-3 (bottom left) and NIMBUS 3 HRIR images (bottom right) compared with AS11-36-5352 and SkySafari time estimate. Image below shows newly restored ESSA (left) and NIMBUS-3 mosaic (right).

Figure is, as always where Africa is in view, complicated by the dividing line between two days’ ESSA images. West of a line stretching from around Madagascar up through the Red Sea and Eastern Europe, the ESSA mosaic dated the 17th is the most appropriate and the northern and southern hemisphere mosaics are the upper two in the top left of the figure. East of that line, the most appropriate mosaic is the one dated the 16th, as the tracks from that will have completed on the 17th, and portions of these are shown centre-left on the figure. The ESSA 3D reconstruction has used elements from the 16th to make the image accurate.

Comparison of the weather patterns identified by the magenta and blue arrows shows the difference between the two very nicely. On the Apollo image (which we know must have been taken on the 17th, and which SkySafari puts at 12:15), the clouds extending eastwards from just north of Madagascar are a wide band of diffuse thin cloud. On the ESSA image dated the 17th, this same band is a more cohesive thin band, compared with the one on the mosaic dated the 16th, which matches that of Apollo. The magenta arrow points to a cloud mass on Apollo's image that extends much further towards Arabia than can be seen in the ESSA image dated the 17th.

On the other side of the line the opposite is true. ESSA's relevant track for the terminator is number 10, or orbit 1761, which on the image dated the 16th was commenced at 08:00 on the 17th. ATS’ image is labelled as being taken on at 14:55 on the 17th, while the NIMBUS orbit nearest the terminator (pass 1259) was commenced at 05:24 on the 17th. On the other side of the globe we have a good view of Northern Europe (figure

Figure Section of NIMBUS-3 HRIR orbit 1262 compared with same area of AS11-36-5352

The correspondence is remarkable, and at the time of the photograph no-one in the US would have had a copy of the satellite record - NIMBUS imaged the UK shortly after 10:00. The flat-lined cloud band bordering Northern Spain is reproduced perfectly, and is something that no-one could have predicted in advance.

This youtube video tries to claim that the image is faked because it was taken on the 16th 40 minutes after launch, but his problem is that he started with the conclusion that it was faked and tried to force the data to fit that conclusion. The data speaks for itself - it was on the 17th. He also gets the location of the Arctic and Antarctic completely wrong and doesn’t check the images before this one (very convenient that) to show that it is definitely not taken in Earth orbit, as well as claiming that there are never any images of “the western hemisphere” which is self-evidently false as anyone who has bothered to look can see.

Interestingly, at about that time, the mission transcript records Capcom telling the crew about the Soviet craft Luna 15, bound for a lunar landing and recorded by Jodrell Bank, but from which signals had been lost.

A short while after the previous image was taken we have an image that allows a greater contribution from the ATS-3 image. AS11-36-5357, which is shown below in figure, and analysed in figure

Figure AS11-36-5357. Source

Figure ESSA-9 (top left), ATS-3 (bottom left) and NIMBUS-3 (centre right) images compared with AS11-36-5357. Centre left shows NIMBUS-3 HRIR mosaic. Below that and SkySafari time estimate and 3D reconstructions using digitally restored data from ESSA (left) and NIMBUS satellites (right)

The red and green arrows point to the same cloud patterns as shown in figure 4.3.14. The ATS time has already been given as 14:55. The NIMBUS orbit nearest the terminator is number 1261, which commenced at 08:06 on the 17th. The Mediterranean area is actually timestamped for the IDCS image at 10:22 ESSA's equivalent orbit is number 1763 (track 12), which commenced at 12:00 on the 17th.

SkySafari’s estimate puts the time at 16:45, which is just over 27 hours into the mission. At 27h18m in the mission transcript, Buzz Aldrin describes:

027:17:09 Aldrin: Hey, Jim, I'm looking through the monocular now, and I guess to coin an expression, the view is just out of this world. I can see all the islands in the Mediterranean. Some larger and smaller islands of Majorca, Sardinia and Corsica. A little haze over the upper Italian peninsula, some cumulus clouds out over Greece. The Sun is setting on the eastern Mediterranean now. The British Isles are definitely greener color than the brownish green that we have in the islands, in the peninsula of Spain. Over.

027:18:53 Aldrin: Got an anticyclone going in the southern hemisphere southeast of Brazil, and some - Well, the diameter of it must be over 2,000 miles         [3,000 km] across.

027:19:15 Lovell: How does the weather look up in the southern part of the western hemisphere, or up in the United States area?

027:19:26 Aldrin: Well, you all are just beginning to come over the LM now. I can see parts of Central America, and it looks to be fairly, fairly clear there. The islands in the Caribbean there, beginning to come in and rather a few streaming lines of clouds. Looks like there is a system up to the - well, off of Greenland that has some large cloud streamers extending back down to the southwest. The east coast of the US is just coming into view now, and it doesn't look too bad that I can see right now. We may have some pretty good shots later on this afternoon. Over.

The magenta arrow is pointing to the storm system of Brazil, and the 'streamers' are on the system identified by the blue arrow. We therefore have an Apollo image showing perfectly the weather systems visible on satellite images, but the astronauts are able to describe the weather conditions to the ground.

About an hour or so later:

028:07:21 Collins: Rog. I've got the world in my window for a change and looking at it through the monocular, it's really something. I wish I could describe it properly, but the weather is very good. South America is coming around into view. I can see on the - what appears to me to be upper horizon, a point that must be just about Seattle, Washington, and then from there I can see all the way down to the southern tip - Tierra del Fuego and the outhern tip of the continent.

Which would match perfectly with the time SkySafari suggests AS11-36-5361 was taken (figure

Figure AS11-36-5361 with SkySafari time estimate

Again, as usual, the description is perfectly accurate and consistent.

The next change of scenery in the picture sequence comes just before some photographs of the LM docking target. AS11-36-5362 is shown below in figure, and analysed in figure

Figure  AS11-36-5362. Source

Figure ESSA-9 (top right upper and lower), ATS-3 (centreright), NIMBUS-3 ISDC (centre left) images compared with AS11-36-5262 . Image centre middle shows HRIR NIMBUS-3 mosaic. Below are 3D reconstructions using digitally restored data from ESSA (left) and NIMBUS satellites (centre) and SkySafari time estimate.

In the preceding figure, the blue, cyan and magenta arrows have been used to identify the same weather systems as shown in figure 4.3.18. The red arrow identifies the remains of Hurricane Bernice, just visible on the western limb.

Now that more of the USA is visible, Buzz again communicates some weather descriptions to the ground, telling Capcom:

029:33:38 Armstrong: And, Houston, we're just looking at you out our window here. Looks like there's a circulation of cloud that's just moved east of Houston over the Gulf and Florida area. Did that have any rain in it this morning?

029:33:59 McCandless: Roger. Our report from outside says that it's raining out here, and it looks like you've got a pretty good eye for the weather there.

029:34:09 Armstrong: Yeah, well, it looks like it ought to clear up pretty soon from our viewpoint. The western edge of the weather isn't very far west of you.

and this system has been identified with a green arrow, so once again we have an astronaut accurately describing the view that he could only have had from space.

The ATS image time is still the same, but ESSA's terminator orbit as moved on to number 1766 (track 2), and commenced at 17:06.  The NIMBUS equivalent was commenced at 13:28 (pass 1264, with the blue arrowed storm imaged at 13:57), and both these timings can be compared with the SkySafari estimate of 19:00.

We now enter an interesting phase of the mission, because there are a couple of TV broadcasts made, with (as will we shall see shortly) contemporaneous photographs. The first TV broadcast took place as a camera test at 30:28 MET, or 20:00 GMT on the 17th. A screenshot from that broadcast is shown below in figure, and analysed in figure

Figure Screenshot from a camera test broadcast. Original source here: Apollo 11 TV Broadcasts

Figure Main image shows ESSA-9 (left) images compared with screenshot of Apollo 11 camera test, and  Image below left shows newly restored IDSC NIMBUS-3 mosaic, below right the HRIR images. At the bottom are 3D reconstructions of digitally restored ESSA (left) and NIMBUS  satellite data (right) SkySafari time estimate.

The yellow, green, red and cyan arrows point to the same patterns as shown in figure The resolution of the image has been increased and the result sharpened to improve clarity.

The camera test seems to have been unscheduled. The Goldstone receiving station in California reported to Houston that they were receiving a signal, who ask the crew about it, and to which they reply:

030:29:39 McCandless: 11, this is Houston. Goldstone reports they are receiving a TV picture coming down from you all. A little snowy, but a good TV picture. Over.

030:29:54 Armstrong: Roger. We're just testing the equipment up here.

The first images from the transmission are of the CSM interior, and the crew ask Goldstone to see if they can see any of the readings on the equipment. Half an hour later, they tell them that:

030:58:00 Collins: Goldstone should be getting about the best picture of the Earth we can give them right now, Charlie.

which puts the time of an Earth image at about 20:30. The analysis presented on the Apollo 11 TV broadcast site mentioned earlier gives the time as the start of the broadcast, but if that were the case all of South America would be visible.

What should be obvious is that SkySafari's terminator from that time shows that the Earth is in the configuration it should be for that time, and the weather systems visible in this broadcast match exactly what can be seen on the satellite images. . The long band of cloud identified by the yellow arrow is particularly prominent.

The features in the image can be seen in a photograph that was evidently taken at the same time. AS11-36-5366 occurs immediately after images of the LM docking target and is shown below in figure, it is analysed in figure

Figure AS11-36-5366. High quality source here: AIA

Figure Main image shows ESSA-9 (left) images compared with AS11-36-5366. Image below shows newly restored NIMBUS-3 IDSC mosaic (left) and HRIR orbits (right) and SkySafari time estimate.

It should (again!) be obvious that the features in the Apollo photograph are not just a match for the satellite weather patterns but also the TV image. The position of the terminator shows that the two were taken at almost exactly the same time, although I have added 15 minutes to the still image to make it 20:45. Although the ATS-3 image has not been included this time, it is still possible to see some weather features that are visible on it.

ESSA's terminator orbit this time is nearer to track 3 than track 2 this time, which puts the start of that orbit (number 1767) at 19:01. Likewise the NIMBUS pass is one further along, and the start of pass number 1265, which commenced at 15:15. I haven’t bothered repeating the use of the 3D models for this image, all you need to do is scroll up and you can see the match is exact.

The next TV broadcast was a live transmission (see here for that broadcast, which some people even recorded on 8mm), and this was started at 33:59 MET (23:31 GMT). There is another image showing a slightly different view before that broadcast, AS11-36-5366, but while much of south America has gone into darkness there is little extra to be gained by analysing it in depth. It is shown below in figure for completeness. 

Figure AS11-36-5366 original (left) and zoomed & cropped Earth, as well as SkySafari time estimate. Source

It’s worth noting the that the SkySafari estimate coincides well with this comment in the mission audio:

031:25:59 Aldrin: That view through this sextant's fantastic. I can see Alaska right up - right up along the LM, and I'm running the crosshairs right now down the coast of California, the west coast of Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula, up around the Gulf, Florida, Cuba, down Central America, and I'm running  into the stop right now, on the sextant.

The next point for analysis is the live TV broadcast, a screenshot from which is shown in figure, and analysed in figure

Figure Above left, screenshot from live TV broadcast (Source), above right, the same view seen in mission control (Source). Right, photograph taken of a domestic TV during the broadcast (Source)

Figure ESSA-9 (top left) and NIMBUS-3 IDCS (centre left) and HRIR (centre right) images compared with live TV broadcast screenshot and SkySafari depiction of terminator at time of broadcast (bottom rightright). Lower images are 3D reconstructions using digitally restored ESSA (left) and NIMBUS (centre) satellite data.

We are again faced with an image from Apollo that shows exactly what is visible in satellite images, and this time it is an image that was shown to millions in a live broadcast. This broadcast took place at 23:31, which is where SkySafari’s terminator has been set, and this also shows that the view is showing exactly what it should show.

ESSA's nearest terminator pass is that of orbit 1767 (track 3), which commenced at 19:01, while NIMBUS-3's orbit for the terminator region is pass 1265, which commenced at 15:15. The final pass covering what we see was commence at 22:26.

The clouds shown by the blue arrow was imaged at 17:28. We have more confirmations of the time from what the crew describe to the TV audience at the very start of the broadcast:

034:01:31 Armstrong: Roger. You're seeing Earth, as we see it, out our left-hand window, just a little more than a half Earth. We're looking at the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the north half of the top half of the screen, we can see North America, Alaska, United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. South America becomes invisible just off beyond the terminator or inside the shadow. We can see the oceans with a definite blue cast, see white bands of major cloud formations across the Earth, and can see coastlines, pick out the western US, San Joaquin Valley, the Sierra mountain range, the peninsula of Baja California, and can see some cloud formations over southeastern US. There's one definite mild storm southwest of Alaska; looks like about 500 to 1000 miles, and another very minor storm showing the south end of the screen near the - or a long ways off of the equator, probably 45 degrees or more south latitude. Can pick out the browns in the landforms pretty well. Greens do not show up very well. Some greens showing along the northeastern - northwestern coast of the United States and northwestern coast of Canada.

034:03:44 Duke: Roger, 11. It's a pretty good picture on clarity here. We're having - can you tell us - It appears to us that there are two distinct cloud formations trending east-west, one approximately about along the equator, and one around 30 or so south latitude. Could you tell us exactly where those cross the land masses? Over.

034:04:13 Armstrong: Well, yes. They cross just south of the lower part of Mexico, probably through Central America. That is the equatorial band which we assume to be the inter-tropical convergence zone. The other band, which is about 30 south correctly, seems to appear to join the equator at the far left, or just beyond the horizon on the left edge of Earth, or at least it looks like it's going to join it. We don't have an explanation for that banding.

And 5 minutes later:

034:09:12 Duke: 11, Houston. Could you describe, from your view, the polar cloud cap? It appears to us to extend down the western coast of North America. Would you estimate how far it extends down? Over. [Long pause.]

034:09:50 Armstrong: It appears that the cloud cap comes down a little bit below the southern extremity of Alaska.

You might want to compare figure with a photograph taken of a TV screen during this broadcast, published in a book in 1970, this 1969 post-landing special, and the 1989 film ‘For All mankind’, which shows clips of it, again proving it was not hidden away and secret.

Going back to the transcripts, ss usual, what they describe is what they should be able to see. The storm to the south west of Alaska is identified by the green arrow. The cloud across the south-east USA is identified by the blue arrow, but it is difficult to make out from the screenshot the storm system in the southern hemisphere. This is best viewed by looking at a photograph taken slightly earlier, which shows the storm more clearly. AS11-36-5373 is shown below in figure, and given the same analytical treatment in figure

Figure AS11-36-5373. Source

Figure ESSA-9 (top left)mNIMBUS-3 IDCS (centre left) and HRIR (centre right) images compared with AS11-36-5373 and SkySafari time estimate (bottom right). Also included are 3D reconstructions of ESSA (above left) and NIMBUS (above centre) satellite data.

The position of the terminator is allowing a clearer view of north America than the TV screenshot, which suggests that the time is actually some 30 minutes before the broadcast, but it does allow a clearer view of the storm the astronauts describe to the ground.

Now that we have a clearer view of what he astronauts were looking at, it's possible to tell that the storm in the southern hemisphere to which Buzz refers is identified by the purple arrow. If the reader refers back to the TV screenshot it is possible to just make out where that whorl of cloud is pretty much on the terminator.

Because of the short difference in time between the TV image and the photograph, the ESSA & NIMBUS orbits are effectively the same for this image as figure

There is another photograph taken during this TV broadcast that adds another dimension to the story, this time taken on Earth.

Figure below shows a scene in Mission Control during a broadcast with Earth in view. It is publicly available in this article describing the experience of reporters during the Apollo missions, Technology Review, and is credited to NASA, but the version shown below is an original better quality dated version offered for sale on eBay. As the eBay link is unlikely to persist, there is little point giving it. The same photograph is shown as published in the Daily News newspaper, dated July 18th, along with the view of Earth itself, again showing that these images were publicly available at the time.

Figure Mission Control workers gather round a screen to watch a TV broadcast (top left). Daily News photographs showing Mission Control during the broadcast and a shot of Earth itself in an edition dated July 18th (top right), Hickory Daily Record (bottom left) and New York Daily News (bottom right) dated July 18th).

This original image is clearly labelled as being from the 17th of July, but as the detail of the Earth is so poor, how can we be sure that it is from this date? The answer lies in viewing the footage. At 34:07, Collins says:

034:07:21 Collins: Okay, world, hold on to your hat. I'm going to turn you upside-down.

At which point he turns the camera. During that movement there is a point when the Earth appears in exactly the same position as is featured in the photograph, and this is shown in figure Even after adjusting the levels on the newspaper image, details are still difficult to make out. However the gap in cloud off south America is easy to see, as is the west coast of north America.

Figure Screenshot from TV broadcast, 17/07/69 compared with image taken in Mission Control on the same date.

This youtuber takes issue with the live TV footage shown above, claiming that the crew are actually in geosynchronous orbit. Or Low Earth Orbit watching a video form geosynchronous orbit - he doesn’t seem to be able to decide which.

He doesn’t seem to understand that a geosynchronous orbit would not show changing land masses beneath them, nor does he seem to realise that geosynchronous orbits are considerably beyond the Low Earth Orbit he claims is the physical maximum for people.

He also seems to have a problem with Armstrong’s ability to see a large storm below Alaska (the green arrow in Figure but not where much smaller cloud bands cross the US mainland - in so doing deliberately mis-representing Armstrong’s answer: the storm is much bigger than the cloud bands Duke refers to:

034:04:53 Duke: Roger, Neil. Thank you. It also appears that just to the left of the terminator, up in the northern hemisphere, there's a cloud band trending - a gap in the cloud, trending northwest/southeast. It appears to us that that comes in about over the northern United States, or perhaps the central United States. Is that about correct? Over.

034:05:26 Armstrong: I can see on the monitor the thing you're talking about, but right now I can't get my eye to the window to pick out just where it crosses the shore line.

The monitor isn’t as sharp as the view with his eye, or the sextant.

He also makes a massive strawman about Collins ‘turning the world upside down’, insinuating that they are pretending that it’s an actual spacecraft manoeuvre, when it is, and can only be, Collins turning the camera. He also claims this in the video description:

“It's important to remember this was not intended for public broadcast. However, since Bart Sibrel brought it to the attention of the world, NASA had little choice but to include the original footage in their archives.”

As we know from the fact that the images appeared all over the TV and newspapers, and the reports from journalists in the press room, and in videos and DVDs published long before Sibrel’s nonsense, this is absolutely not true. Here, for example, is the New York Times’ verbatim quote of Armstrong’s description of the view reported above (figure

Intro Day 1 - 16/07/69 Day 2 - 17//07/69 Day 3 - 18/07/69 Day 4 - 19/07/69 Day 5 - 20/07/69 Day 6 - 21/07/69 Day 7 - 22/07/69 Day 8 - 23/07/69 Day 9 - 24/07/69 Synoptic
Intro Day 1 - 16/07/69 Day 2 - 17//07/69 Day 3 - 18/07/69 Day 4 - 19/07/69 Day 5 - 20/07/69 Day 6 - 21/07/69 Day 7 - 22/07/69 Day 8 - 23/07/69 Day 9 - 24/07/69 Synoptic

Figure Youtube comment defending Sibrel’s “best guess”.

Turns out that Sibrel’s definitive “they were in LEO” was completely wrong, and they were using a satellite image. A satellite image that hadn’t been taken yet. In colour, when no colour satellites existed. A transparency that shows Earth’s rotation. Right. The suggestion that the timing of the transmissions is completely incorrect. It was a TV broadcast, not one where audio was added afterwards. It was broadcast to journalists and later the TV news. The ‘smoking gun’ so often lauded by Apollo’s critics is now not good enough. Straydog02 is quite simply wrong and clutching at straws. The only way that TV broadcast is possible is by being on the way to the moon.

At the same time as broadcasting to the world live TV images that could only be possible by being exactly where they said they were, the crew managed to get a few still photographs as well. One example is AS11-36-5337. I happen to own an original NASA release of this, dated on the back. It’s shown in figure

His wild assertions about the meaning in the communications from the ground, and Collins’ facial expressions) are beyond ludicrous. He’s made several videos about Earth footage, and he fails every time to focus on the main issue: the weather, and the view of it only being possible from a spacecraft in cislunar space.

Sibrel’s claim that this, and other broadcasts, were somehow concocted n LEO is examined in detail in this excellent youtube video. In addition to pointing out the many logical flaws in the claim, the video points out that a view of Earth is shown at the start and end of the transmission, and that view is entirely consistent with the roughly 30 minutes that elapse. Figure illustrates the point.

Figure Verbatim reports of astronaut conversations in the New York Times, 18/07/69 (Source)

There’s very clear and obvious movement of landmass and weather patterns, entirely consistent with the 7 or 8 degrees you’d expect over half an hour.

The next still image in the magazine at the time of the broadcast shows the same view but with Florida on the terminator, suggesting a time for the photograph of around midnight on the 18th at the end of the TV broadcast. In that case. We need to move on to Day 3.

Figure Stills from the start and end of the TV broadcast showing Earth’s rotation, along with SkySafari depictions.