As well as spectacular photographs taken on the lunar surface and looking back at the Earth, Apollo astronauts took distant photographs of their destination.

So what? Anyone can take a photograph of the Moon right? True, but no-one can take a photograph of the Moon like an Apollo astronaut - from the side as they enter and leave lunar orbit, seeing the Moon from an angle no other humans have.

Some of the more extreme idiots who insist we never went to the Moon claim that the Saturn V rockets never even left Earth. This is clearly nonsense, as the following photographs will demonstrate.

Just so we’re clear what we should be seeing, here is a picture of the Moon as seen from Earth. It is not a NASA image, or an Observatory image, it’s one I took with my own telescope from my garden. You might see it rotated differently, you might see slightly more at either edge thanks to the moon’s libration (its apparent ‘wobble’ caused by its elliptical orbit around us), but this is the pretty much what you will see anywhere on Earth. This kind of whole disk image is what we will be looking at here.

Apollo 8

The first example comes from the first human circumlunar expedition. Magazine 14 of the mission photographs shows a number of photographs of a retreating Moon as the astronauts return from their celestial Christmas rendezvous.

The first full disk image of the moon is AS08-14-2506, and if you have read the analysis of Apollo images presented here and here, you’ll know that the pictures of Earth on that magazine date things very precisely. It’s not just any old picture of the Moon, it’s a picture of the Moon that can only have been taken during the Apollo 8 mission. It is a popular image, and featured in many newspapers and magazines of the day, including Life magazine’s January 10 1969 edition. The observant reader will notice that the high resolution image linked to above is actually inverted - it needs to be flipped horizontally to be correct, which it has been here.

So, we know it’s an image of the Moon taken on the way home from it (not, as this NASA site claims, two days before it got there!), Let’s compare it with what should be visible from Earth.

AS08-14-2506 compared with a Stellarium view from the north Pacific (visible from the moon at Trans-earth Injection) at 06:30 GMT December 25 1968

So, what differences do we see? Well, for a start the terminator line is convex on the view from Apollo, but concave when seen from Earth. We know the location of the terminator is roughly correct because it follows the same line of features. The Stellarium time is set at Trans-Earth Injection (TEI), which matches what is visible in this part of the magazine - a series of lunar images with the Moon getting progressively smaller.

The other major difference is what can be seen. If you look both at the Stellarium image, and the picture I took shown at the top of this page, there are obviously features showing that are either not normally visible from Earth, or never visible at all. Ever.

The most obvious features are the bright spot of the Giordano Bruno crater, the bright stripe near the eastern limb ahead of King crater, and the dark spot of Tsiolkovskiy. Giordano Bruno can be seen during a favourable libration, but as Stellarium shows this was not one of those occasions and the area to the east of it is not visible from Earth. Tsiolkovskiy was only discovered by Luna 3 in 1959, and, like King crater, is not visible from Earth.

Also just visible at the very southern edge of the disc below the freckles of Mare Australe is the high albedo spot of Fechner C crater, another one not visible from Earth. Mare Australis can be viewed during favourable librations, but not from Earth on this occasion.

Obviously then something took this photograph at the Moon. The fact that we have video footage and photographic evidence of Apollo astronauts taking those photographs is, to all but the wilfully ignorant, proof that it was a person.

Compare the photograph above with the image shown in the 16mm footage (available here).

Apollo 08 16mm video still.

The terminator curvature is still not that of a terrestrial perspective, but the lunar features visible are much closer to that seen from Earth, although there is still some way to go before it becomes an exact match.

Apollo 10

Apollo 10 also saw fit to take photographs just after TEI, and the first one to show a complete lunar disk is AS10-35-5249. Magazine 35, in which this photograph is found, contains a range of photographs of Earth that demonstrate exactly when the photograph was taken, as it occurs between photographs demonstrably taken on the way out to, in orbit around, and on the way home from, the Moon.

The photograph below shows the Apollo 10 image compared with Stellarium’s view of the Moon at TEI from India, which would have been in view at that time.

AS10-135-5249 compared with Stellarium view of Earth at TEI.

Although this time there are many features that are not permanently obscured from Earthbound viewers, it should be evident from Stellarium’s view that at the time the photograph was taken they were not visible. The time can be confirmed again by the line the terminator takes across the lunar surface.

It should also be obvious that the half Moon seen from Earth is presenting a different phase to the homeward bound astronauts.

The final image of the Moon in the magazine, AS10-35-5277 is given below with the Stellarium view of the scene as it was at the time of the photograph of Earth taken a few frames later, and shows that the viewing point of the astronauts has become much closer to that of their terrestrial counterparts.

Zoomed and cropped view of AS10-35-5277 compared with the Stellarium view of Earth on May 26 1969, 12:45 GMT

Apollo 11

Apollo 11 has a couple of contenders for examination here, one black and white, one colour.

The black & white candidate is AS11-38-5654, from a magazine showing photographs of Earth at the end of it identifiable as being from specific dates. The colour candidate is from magazine 44, one which shows spectacular Earthrises and the Lunar Module ‘Eagle’ flying before and after the landing. As usual the Earth photographs allow undisputable dating of the photographs around the lunar image used (see here and here).

AS11-44-6664 compared with Stellarium view from Earth at TEI. The Apollo image has been contrast adjusted as the original was ‘washed out’.

This time Apollo doesn’t even give us a terminator - it shows us a full Moon instead od the half Moon that should be visible if it was a photograph taken from Earth. Tsiolkovskiy is just in view, and many of the features on the eastern portion of the photograph are usually hidden from Earth thanks to libration., And certainly weren’t visible from Earth when the photograph was taken.

A couple of photographs later we have AS11-44-6667. The Moon is now slightly smaller, but what is important is that the disc is no longer completely ‘full’. It is, however, not taken long after AS11-44-6664 as the now visible terminator is still a good match for the Stellarium terminator line. Thanks to the change in perspective the Earthward trajectory gives us, Tsiolkovskiy is reduced to the thinnest of slivers on the eastern limb.

AS11-44-6667 is shown below on the left, while on the right it is shown superimposed on AS11-44-6664. The latter has had blues enhanced, the former the reds enhanced, so that the degree of difference between the two as the photographer’s perspective changes can be seen more easily.


AS11-44-6664 (blue) overlain by AS11-44-6667 (red)

One final photograph of the Moon from Apollo 11 is on magazine 38, and is AS11-38-5718. It occurs after several images of Earth dated late on the 22nd of July. A zoomed and cropped version is shown below.

AS11-38-5618 compared with Stellarium view of the Moon July 24 1969 at 02:00 GMT

As we can expect, there is very strong agreement between the view suggested by Stellarium and the Moon photographed by Apollo 11. We can be fairly certain about the time chosen because the next photograph in the magazine, a picture of Earth, can be pretty accurately dated at 02:30 on the 24th.

The view is not 100% identical - there is, for example a greater distance between Mare Crisium and the eastern edge on Apollo’s rendering, but this isn’t so surprising as they are still 15 hours from Earth.

Apollo 12

Apollo 12 gives us a little treat in terms of this discussion, in that it shows us images of the Moon on the outward as well as return journey. The outward portion is discussed in the ‘Clouds Across the Moon’ document here, but there is no harm in re-capping it.

Magazine 50 features numerous photographs of Earth on the outward portion of the journey, and these can be dated reliably using satellite meteorological data as before.

Before entering lunar orbit (as depicted in the magazine), there are a couple of photographs depicting the Moon as a thin crescent. The difference here is that while homeward bound photographs tend to show portions of the lunar far side east of the horizon (as we see it), these images show the Moon as viewed from the west.

The first one is AS12-50-7389. The Photographic Index for the mission describes this as taken before the first lunar orbit, and as Lunar Orbit Insertion occurred at 03:47 GMT on November 18 1969 it must have been before then. The image of Earth immediately before this photograph AS12-50-5788 can be dated at 05:30 on the 17th, and the image of Earth immediately after the pair of lunar photographs (AS12-50-5790) at 08:30 on the 17th. If we pick an arbitrary but not unreasonable time of 07:00 GMT as the basis for a Stellarium view of the Moon, we get the one shown below.

AS12-50-7389 zoomed, cropped, brightness adjusted and rotated compared with Stellarium view at 07:00 GMT on November 17 1969

Just so we know what we’re looking at, the terminator line on both images falls at the western edge of Mare Vaporum, and the eastern horizon of the Apollo image cuts across Mare Tranquillitatis. This is quite obviously not a view that can be had from any terrestrial viewpoint, and the fact that it is in such a narrow window time window shown by the Earth photographs makes it even more obviously taken from exactly where Apollo 12 was supposed to be.

A few frames later in the same magazine we have AS12-50-7399. It is an even narrower crescent that the previous photograph examined, and the preceding image of Earth (AS12-50-7396) is dated as 00:30 on the 18th. Photographs after this crescent show the lunar surface from orbit. The terminator line crosses Timocharis crater in Mare Imbrium, and to the east of that just in sunlight is Archimedes. If we assume a time of the photograph at around 02:00 on the 18th, we get a Stellarium image with the terminator cutting across the correct region.

AS12-50-7399 compared with a Stellarium view of the Moon from Earth at 02:00 on November 18th 1969

The terminator line is consistent with the time and location suggested: coasting around to the lunar far side preparing for LOI.

The homeward bound photographs of the Moon are shown in magazine 55. Unfortunately it shows no images that can be used to date them precisely, but the Photographic Index labels them as being of TEI, with the first part of the magazine showing photographs taken from lunar orbit.

The first one is AS12-55-8225, and is the first full disk photograph of the TEI series. TEI occurred at 20:49 on November 21 1969.

AS12-55-8225 compared with Stellarium view of the Moon on November 21 1969 at 22:00

Now that Apollo 12 is on the way home the view of the Moon is almost full, but the view from the departing spacecraft shows a ¾ one. The terminator line shown is the eastern one, and would not be visible from Earth. It crosses the far side crater Langemak, amongst others. The large crater just below centre and west of the terminator is Pasteur, which is only occasionally brought into view by libration.

The final view of the Moon in the magazine is AS12-55-8289.

AS12-55-8289 zoomed and cropped compared with Stellarium view of the Moon at 14:0 on November 22 1969

In this image two things have changed - firstly the perspective of the astronaut has altered, as Pasteur crater is now much nearer the eastern horizon, and more features have been brought into view on the western limb. Secondly, the terminator line has moved to be almost at Pasteur. A rough estimate for the amount of time this would have taken is shown by the time of the Stellarium image, but this is an approximation judged by eye.

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 took many lunar photographs despite the enforced brevity of the mission.

The first useful one meeting the criteria for this mini analysis is AS13-61-8765, although the a small part of the Moon is obscured by the spacecraft window.

It is a full disk, and occurs between photographs of closer and distant lunar images, and before a photograph of Earth dated at 05:00 on the 15th.

AS13-61-8765 compared with Stellarium view of Earth at 02:00 GMT 15/04/70

Tsiolkovskiy is visible , and quite a considerable portion of the moon to the east of it, this is a photograph that could not have been taken from Earth. The size of the Moon suggests that it was taken shortly  after the TEI burn that sent it safely back home, let’s say 02:00. Stellarium shows the view that would have been seen on Earth, and it is clearly not the one photographed here.

A different magazine also shows a picture that must have been taken shortly after TEI, AS13-60-8707. The photograph is found in a magazine that starts with pictures of Earth. AS13-60-8602 (the last before images of the Moon in close up) has been dated at 20:45 on the 14th.

AS13-60-8707 compared with Stellarium view of the Moon at 03:00 April 15th 1970

The angle of view has obviously changed now, but while the visible features are not far away from a normal terrestrial viewpoint, there is still substantially more visible. The estimate of 03:00 is not unreasonable, as AS13-60-8716 has been dated at 0500 on the 15th. Putting the time much later would move the curve of Rimae Bode too far from the terminator.

By the final image of the Moon in this magazine, AS13-60-8724 (which we can say with certainty must have been taken before 22:00 on the 15th, as the next photograph is of Earth and that is the time it was taken) there is more agreement with the Earth based view, but it is still not exactly the same.

Zoomed, cropped, rotated and brightened AS13-6+0-8724 compared with Stellarium view on April 15 at 12:00 GMT

The time of 12:00 is again based on an estimation, but the terminator line is a good match.

Only by the last image of the Moon in magazine 62, AS13-62-9035 do we get an approximation of the view from Earth. The photographs of Earth either side of this image mean it can only have been taken between 18:00 and 20:45 on the 16th, but the fact that they are still at least 23 hours from home means it is still not the perfect replica of a terrestrial view.

AS13-62-9035 zoomed, cropped and rotated, compared with Stellarium view from Earth on April 16 at 20:00

Apollo 14

Apollo 14 did not do well in terms of photographing the entire lunar disk - most images that are obviously attempts to image the entire lunar globe are dismal failures. The first successful whole disk is AS14-73-10196. This photograph is evidently after TEI, as pictures at the start of the magazine are surface photographs taken from lunar orbit.

AS14-73-10196 compared with Stellarium view from Earth at 05:00 on February 71

The view seen by the Apollo astronauts is little different to that as seen from Earth in this image, but it is still full compared with ¾ full, and still shows features that were not visible from Earth at the time of the photograph. Once again it is obviously a photograph taken from a vantage point of an Apollo craft emerging from the far side of the Moon on an earthbound trajectory.

Apollo 15

Apollo 15 fares slightly better, supplying a few images appropriate to this little study. Two of the magazines consist solely of lunar images, but Magazine 88 shows images of the lunar surface, lunar orbit and Earth taken from lunar orbit as well. This mission also featured the first use of the mapping camera, and one magazine specifically shows whole disk images taken after TEI, which happened at 21:22 August 04 1971.

The first mapping camera image of a full lunar disk is AS15-M-2776

Apollo 16

Apollo 16 also has little in the way of lunar images to add to this study, and the photographs that do match the criteria required occur on magazines with no other supporting features such as photographs of Earth. The mapping camera does have a good record of post-TEI lunar disks, and there is one Hasselblad image we can use.

The first (almost) full disk post-TEI image is AS16-M-3021, shown below with a Stellarium projection of what should be visible from Earth shortly after TEI.

Apollo 17

Humanity’s final expedition to the lunar frontier contains many fine photographs, but only a couple of the entire lunar disk that are of use here - both in magazine 152, which shows an images taken in lunar orbit, including dateable photographs of an Eathset and of the trans-Earth coast EVA to collect photographic magazines from the SIM bay.

The first photograph of the two is AS17-152-23308.

AS17-152-23308 compared with Stellarium view from Earth at 01:00 on December 17 1972

On this occasion the eastern terminator falls across the far side of Tsiolkovskiy crater, which we know can not be seen from Earth. The western terminator cuts across the western edge of Mare Humorum, which is exactly where it should be, as shown below.

Fourmilab projection of lunar night & day at 01:00 on December 17 UTC

01:00 has been picked as a reasonable time, but it does fall after TEI, and before the EVA pictured later, which took place at 20:27.

We also have an image taken by the mapping camera after TEI. Like all images on that magazine they are not whole disk views, but we may as well include it for fun.

A photograph of the Moon taken after that event is AS17-152-23414. Only a low quality image is available, but we will do our best with it.

Zoomed and cropped AS17-152-23414 compared with Stellarium view from Earth at 23:00 on December 17 1972

As there is still a couple of days before splashdown it’s not surprising that the view from Apollo 17 is still not the same as the view from Earth. Even a low quality image of a very distant Moon contains evidence that shows that the camera that took it was not on terrestrial ground, Or indeed any ground at all.


So, what have we proved here?

Well, we have proved pretty conclusively that the Apollo missions returned photographs of the Moon that could not have been taken from Earth.

All photographs taken during the initial post-TEI stage show features that are either never visible from Earth or were not visible during the mission thanks to unfavourable libration.

Photographs taken nearer the Earth still show differences to the views Earth-bound spectators would see, thanks to the difference in perspective being in a Command Module gives the photographers. Some hoax proponents have spotted this, pointing (for example) to images from Apollo 11 and 12 that show terminator positions that don’t correspond with the view from Earth. They know that the Earth and moon phases mirror each other (for example a ¾ Earth is a ¼ moon, but they haven’t grasped that this only applies when you’re looking at one from the other.

Fourmilab Moonviewer projection of the terminators August 4 1971 at 22:00. Red X marks the location of Pasteur & Hilbert craters.

Compare this with the first full disk image at the end of magazine 88, AS15-88-12013 is a full disk image at the end of  magazine 88. It have been taken after TEI, because it follows a sequence of other lunar images.

AS15-M-2276 compared with Stellarium view from Earth from August 4 1971 at 22:00

The straight terminator indicates that Apollo was directly above it, rather than at an angle. In contrast to the normal state of affairs, the view from Earth is an almost full Moon, compared with a half-moon view from Apollo. The terminator line runs east of Pasteur and Hilbert craters, The line of the terminator on the western limb is opposite those craters, and is entirely consistent with what would be expected, as shown below by Fourmilab’s Moonviewer projection of the day and night on the relevant date.

AS15-88-12013 (left) and AS15-M-2999 (right). Both images zoomed and cropped

The terminator line on the Hasselblad image shows a very similar path to the one on the post-TEI image of the mapping camera. When this is compared with the last full disk image on the mapping camera (AS15-M-2999), it’s obvious that this is taken some time later. Much more of the Western limb normally visible from Earth is present, and Pasteur is beginning to cross the terminator into darkness. A rough estimate would put the mapping photograph at 48 hours later.

The video below shows the sequence of mapping camera photographs as the spacecraft returns home. Pasteur crater is easily identifiable crossing the terminator, showing that the amount of time passed is not enough to account for the change in shape of the Moon.

AS16-M-3021 compared with Stellarium projection of the Moon as viewed from earth shortly after TEI

The terminator line here is running some distance east of three craters that are not visible from Earth: Ostwald, Ibn Finas and King (King has a pronounced central peak and can be found in the bottom half of the picture, right of the centre line, and is indicated by a red cross in the image below. The terminator cuts though Tsiolkovskiy crater, which is just cut off on the image above.

Fourmilab projection of sunlit areas shortly after TEI

A later mapping camera image (AS16-M-3105 - see below) shows that the viewpoint of the Earth-bound Apollo has changed to show more of the surface normally visible from Earth, but the King-Ostwald-Ibn Finas triplet is still in roughly the same position relative to the terminator (this time at around 3 o’clock on the lunar clock-face). Tsiolkovskiy is just visible at around 4 o’clock just on the terminator, confirming that the lunar day has not advanced much between these two images, but the viewpoint definitely has.

AS16-M-3105 - zoomed and cropped.

There are other images of a full lunar disk from the mapping camera, but they are for the most part over-exposed, and very little in the way of surface features can be discerned. It is possible to make out features along the terminator line, and one example can be seen below.

AS16-M-3201 cropped (left) and after brightness level adjustment (right)

At around 3 o’clock on the lunar face, on the terminator, there is a crater with a prominent peak. Once the brightness is adjusted, this crater can be identified as Hilbert,and the dark shading of the lunar maria can also be seen.  In order for Hilbert to be on the horizon, we need to move time along about 36 hours, as can be seen below, and this is entirely consistent with the journey homewards that the mapping camera images illustrate with an ever shrinking lunar disk.

Fourmilab view of sunlit areas on the Moon at midnight, April 27 1972

If this is compared with the Hasselblad image, we can see that they were taken at roughly the same time, but the view given by Stellarium shows that we are still not looking at it from a terrestrial perspective. Not surprising, as we are still 19 hours from re-entry.


The view of Tsiolkovskiy crater is fabulous, and the extended shadow falling from its central peak is something human eyes would never see from Earth.

The second Hasselblad image is shown below. The detail is not as clear because the Moon has been photographed from a much greater distance

AS16-121-19451 compared with Stellarium view of Earth at 03:00 April 25 1972

As with Apollo 15, it is possible to string together consecutive mapping camera images from the post-TEI magazine to produce a video, and this is shown below. The change in view of the lunar surface is even more striking on this video than the previous one, and can only be explained by a changing viewpoint of the astronauts that took the photographs.

Again, the Earth image matches perfectly what it should show for the time the image was taken, and the moon is viewed from the side as the spacecraft anticipates where it will be by the time their extended orbit intercepts it.

Die-hard conspiracy lovers will no doubt argue that it could all have been done remotely or using already existing photographs, but as many of the lunar images used here are accompanied by photographs of astronauts, or Apollo hardware, or both, and are mixed in with photographs of Earth that can be dated exactly thanks to weather satellite images from the days concerned this gets more and more unlikely.

In order to support the idea that the missions were hoaxed, the process of faking it gets ever more complicated. Conspiracists now have to concede that something was orbiting the Moon taking photographs at the same time as the missions were supposedly being faked on Earth. It really was easier to actually go to the Moon than provide the fakes the Apollo deniers claim they are.

The study given above proves nothing on its own, but it is yet another straw of evidence on an already over-stretched spine that the Apollo conspiracy argument camel is having to support.

We went to the Moon. Only idiots, morons, liars and fraudsters claim otherwise.

This particular facebook poster either hasn’t checked the timeline to see when these images were taken, or he has and is just assuming what he should see. These images of Earth taken from space (from here and here, illustrate perfectly that the the view depends on the position of the observer.

You don’t even have to put much effort into proving this. Just a few ££ gets you the Apollo missions add-on to the Sky Safari app on your Android device. The app allows you to follow the trajectory of the missions, and you can take screenshots of the view at any given time. Let’s have a look at the view from 19:00 on 22/07/69, when the Apollo 11 photos were taken (confirmed by the satellite record and terminator position) and compare them with what the photos themselves.

The app shows not only that the images show exactly what they should, but why: the Apollo 11 craft is not in a direct line of sight between Earth and moon, because the moon has moved on and Apollo I effectively looking to one side.

We can do a similar exercise with the Apollo 12 images the facebook poster uses (eg AS12-50-7388 & 9) , though because the app doesn’t go into as much detail for this mission we can only see the view of Earth and the position in cislunar space.