Starry starry night
It gets tedious it really does. Constant carping on about how the Apollo astronauts never saw stars and never spoke about them. Oh sure, you’ll find many times when they say they can’t see any, or that it’s difficult to see them, or they can’t find one, and this gets seized upon with misinformed ill-
They never quite mention that the fact that they discuss stars all the time throughout every mission or that the transcripts (and let’s not forget these are the verbatim records of what was fed live to bored journalists in mission control) contain many mentions of planets and stars.
This page is a collection of them. I searched the transcripts for planet names, “stars”, “planet” and “constellation”. If there’s a pointless interjection by Capcom or part of a voice communication that doesn’t add anything to the stars quote, I’ve removed them. Feel free to check the transcripts yourself. There are people who claim astronauts aren’t allowed to discuss stars, so I’ve also included quotes from oral histories, mission reports and technical debriefings from places like the ALSJ and AFJ, interviews, books and so on that proves that this idea is at best nonsense, at worst a stupid lie.
I mostly didn’t bother with the navigation stuff as it’s too technical and doesn’t really add anything, for example from Apollo 11:
“32833 228, DELTA-
Although if it’s a nice description or adds something interesting I’ve included it.
If you really want to find hundreds of references to stars, try searching for ‘Nunki’, or ‘Sirius’, or Altair, or any of the other numbered and named stars that they had on their star charts. You can read more about those here, and this is an example of one of them.
You could also read the Apollo 9 transcripts on this page that detail their work in testing the star identification and navigation procedures.
For reference, each quote has a time given in days, hours, minutes and seconds, and the words are spoken by the mission commander (CDR), Command Module Pilot (CMP) and the Lunar Module Pilot (LMP).
All we have to do now is wait for some idiot to claim that they had to mention stars at regular intervals to keep up the pretence….
00 00 44 58 LMP Hey, I'll tell you something. The stars are clearer here than I’ve seen them on the ground, I can point out Pleiades very nicely.
00 20 08 13 CMP Roger. I was Just doing a little star examination here at sunset with the sun at my back, so to speak, and you can see stars -
07 08 33 01 CMP I Just looked outside. There's a beautiful planet up here over Scorpio. I don't know which one it is, but it sure is bright.
07 19 34 50 CDR It's a real pretty sight; we got the sunrise, "yewpiter", and then the moon, all within about 8 degrees of each other.
00 00 51 01 LMP I can see a lot of stars over on this side.
00 06 36 59 CDR We're on the PTC mode now waiting for Jim, and I noticed that out my window now I can see Orion very clearly, even though the Sun is bright in the other window.
00 13 32 42 CMP I have no difficulty in finding these stars in the sextant. I also had no difficulty in spotting the stars I used, such as Sirius, Procyon, or Canopus against the Earth during our star-
01 12 16 05 CMP Now the attitude I found that the optics are best at are the attitudes which give the constellations Canis Major and Orion in the scanning telescope. At this, this particular attitude of the spacecraft, the band is gone; we're in a position whereby the Sun is behind us, and I can see quite a few stars. Now yesterday I could also, after getting dark-
01 19 39 39 CMP at this distance, there is no problem -
01 19 40:36 CMP I'm looking out the window right now. I have the lights out in the spacecraft, the window covered where the Sun is, and I can see the stars very well out the left rendezvous window.
03 16 48 40 CMP I see the limb, and I see the stars coming up
00 02 34 32 LMP I can see the -
00 04 09 11 LMP Oh, beautiful, beautiful. Look at all those white stars!
00 06 39 00 CDR Hey, there's the Big Dipper over there.
00 06 57 43 LMP Boy, are those stars bright out there.
00 06 57 50 CMP The old Southern Cross. Hey, wonder if I can see the Magellanic Clouds?
00 07 05 19 CMP Okay, the daylight star check, started out about 10 seconds prior to the official sunrise, and counted through to about 19 stars, the last few of which were in the Big Dipper -
00 08 12 27 CDR Look, Dave. We're getting some stars out there.
05 19 59 50 CMP Incidentally, found Jupiter in the sextant the other day, and you can see the four moons around Jupiter.
06 01 04 44 LMP Boy, a whole bunch of stars. Oodles of them
07 02 23 18 CMP I'll tell you, one thing I'm learning on this trip is the southern stars.
08 02 33 51 LMP Oh, my god! Stars!-
08 02 30 14 CMP Hey, Jim, the two Magellanic Clouds are right out the front window.
00 23 55 44 CMP I did recognise what I believed to be mars, off the earth, and Jupiter because of its four moons
01 00 19 27 CDR Just a second ago, when the sun was in the right side window, number 5 window, I can see on the Southern Cross, Aerux and alpha beta Centauri out my left window and charts the first time we've been able to see it... John couldn't see many other stars, Just the real big ones, you know, like alpha beta Centauri and Acrux. Now as the sun moves on around, they've disappeared, but that's the first glimpse of any stars I've gotten.
01 02 04 42 CMP Looks like we're going to be able to see stars, because the LM is shielding us from the sun
01 02 06 12 CDR Okay, I can see the stars real good out the side wlndow I've got Sirius out my side window, but even out through the rendezvous window i can look up there and I've got Orion and Rigel there.
01 21 17 27 CMP I've already got Jupiter and you can recognize it because of its moons
04 08 08 00 CMP Here comes Scorpio. That's what you head in. Stand by.
06 02 27 23 CMP We were able to recognize the Big Bear, the Big Lion and, of course, Jupiter, Arcturus, Alphecca, and even old Basalhague, and the Navigator's Triangle. And then due to the Sun, things sort of get washed out, and they get washed out right on around until you pick up the Big Dipper again. But I'll tell you that's the first time trans-
06 08 33 10 LMP Okay. The Moon and the Earth are the same relative size to us now. The planet Jupiter is easily visible about 5 diameters from the Moon. We can see stars within 6 diameters of the Moon.
00 00 46 45 CDR I can see some stars
00 02 48 07 CMP I see a bright star out there, must be Venus. Forgot to memorize John Mayer's views out the window well enough to say that's Venus or not, but it's sure bright.
02 00 49 44 CMP My guess would be the telescope's probably pretty useless, but you can differentiate in the sextant between water droplets and stars by the difference in their motions.
02 23 59 20 CDR Houston, it's been a real change for us. Now we are able to see stars again and recognize constellations for the first time on the trip. It's -
03 05 07 07 LMP Houston, when a star sets up here, there's no doubt about it. One instant it's there, and the next instant it's just completely gone.
05 03 21 05 LMP (TRANQ) And it looks like in detent 6 I can pick up Venus right at the fringe, but I can't get anything else.
00 02 09 37 CDR I got a bunch of stars out my window, now.
03 13 26 17 CDR Gad, there's stars out there; can't believe it.
03 13 27 53 LMP What else is out there? There's all kinds of stars, but I don't recognize any.
03 13 28 14 CDR Hey, there's all kinds of stars out there now.
04 12 47 06 CDR Man, there go the stars.
04 12 47 30 CDR Well, let me get that heater off again. The Moon's not in the way. There's nothing but stars out there, buddy.
04 12 55 39 CDR Who said you couldn't look out the AOT and -
04 14 55 51 CDR Boy, you can sure see the stars out of this AOT. I'm in detent 1 right now, looking at Sirius, and I can see the whole constellation.
06 18 57 04 CDR And when you were sitting sideways -
08 03 03 53 CMP That's affirmative. No problem with the stars at all. Venus -
08 03 04 03 CMP Actually, it's -
09 20 03 58 CMP Hey, would you check with the boys in the back room? Should I have -
CMP Hello, Houston; 12. It's all right. I got it now.
10 01 30 52 CDR Venus is just below the Earth, and we can see Venus quite clearly, well, you can see all kinds of stars, but Venus is just below the Earth. This is -
000:29:13 CDR Yes, but see the -
CMP Yes, it is. Right in it.
CDR And then right below that, way -
CMP The next star down there?
03 04 42 31 CDR Man, look at those stars…We are in the shadow of the Moon now. The Sun is just about set as far as I can see and the stars are all coming out.
03 04 48 20 LMP What do you see out your upper window?
03 14 57 CDR ... went into the dark mode, you could easily distinguish stars
04 10 36 17 CMP ….Jim and I were able to spot constellations from the windows of the LM when there's no venting taking place.
00 00 09 27 CMP There's a big outside.
LMP A jillion stars.
00 00 33 24 CMP Man. Those stars are dimmer than they are in the simulator.
00 00 41 39 CDR Boy, those stars are -
LMP Real good.
00 00 42 28 CDR Well, I'm seeing it ... I'm seeing airglow, Stu. I can see the stars on the other side of it.
03 09 45 24 LMP Man, there are a lot of stars out here in one sector of the sky.
CDR 'What sector are you looking at?
LMP I don't see a sector where there's not any. Usually I don't see them. Oh, the stars?
LMP Yes. I've got the Big Dipper floating alongside me ouz here for some time. Could have gone on around Arcturus, Spica, and Gienah. And I can just barely see the Little Dipper up behind us.
03 13 50 41 CDR Sure is strange that we can be able to see the rest of the constellations.
03 13 51 54 LMP I can't see anything but stars.
03 13 51 57 LMP I can't see anything but stars, and we're no longer in earthshine anyhow.
03 14 26 22 LMP Well, it is pitch black out this window. I can see stars out this window.
03 15 19 30 LMP And, Houston, looking to the north, we see the same view. It's a very sharply defined horizon. I can see the stars.
05 22 52 44 CDR Get -
00 01 21 18 CMP Looks like Aquarius coming up back there.
00 02 09 16 LMP Boy, that's -
08 04 06 32 CMP Yes, there's quite a few stars out there, aren't there?
00 00 33 43 CDR I forgot, the flood's turned all the way up in here. Stars are out there, Ken, I can see them.
00 00 37 29 CMP By golly, there are some stars out there.
00 00 48 49 CMP Gosh, this is mag -
00 00 50 44 CMP Oh, I can even see stars now with the reticle turned on. Is it -
00 00 52 56 CDR And that torquing angle was just super. And you can even see stars.
00 02 04 30 LMP Look at the way the stars show up in the daytime.
03 01 02 56 CDR Yes, and it's just about -
03 04 06 08 CMP Right now in the telescope, I -
05 10 35 58 CMP I'm still not having as much success with the telescope as I -
06 00 22 35 CMP At least the star patterns all check out. I've got Canopus and Regor and Avoir [?] and all those stars in sight.
06 05 42 41 CMP But I can see plenty of stars all over the place outside, and I just can't see a thing through that telescope. And I know we could when we were in Earth orbit, because the first thing I thought was that we didn't have it, and then I waited until we got around and looked at a bright part of the sky, and we got hold of Scorpion. It was there and it was all beautiful. And now, I look out there and it's just -
06 09 31 56 CMP I got a chance to go back and look at the telescope on one of the last two revs, and found out the problem was that even after I had gone back and taped the eyepieces back on, they still had the tape on them, but the darned things had slipped out of focus with the telescope. And I guess it was far enough out of focus that it -
06 10 22 14 CMP Hey, you know, I haven't -
07 00 04 59 CMP I must have one of the planets right up there above, right in that area, too. Does that sound right? That's around Nunki.
07 00 12 18 CMP Yes, you have Jupiter in my field of view, and all his little moons.
08 11 14 07 LMP You know, Pete, if you took this view that y'all Just saw of the Moon and put in a movie, everybody would say you're faking it. It doesn't look like that. And it's just -
10 01 10 32 CDR Yeah, I see stars.
10 01 11 22 CDR: Well, I could see stars there for a while.
10 03 22 52 CDR And we could -
00 00 04 29 CDR I got some stars out the right
00 01 25 19 CDR Look at those stars.
00 02 55 21 LMP Bob, that glow is actually above the horizon, Just in case you're curious. I can see -
00 05 56 46 LMP The interesting thing was the continual glow on the horizon we had, even at night, on the darkside pass. And that glow was in the atmosphere because I could see stars rise over the horizon in it and then pass on through it.
00 21 18 25 CDR Ron, I think, may have saw Saturn out the overhead hatch
05 14 54 44 CMP (Humming) Boy, that's beautiful out there. Nothing but white sky full of stars in a black, black nothing. You can't tell it's the Moon; you can't tell it's anything. Black, round ... Curves.
06 10 27 24 CMP Hey, okay. Sounds good, there's little old Aldebaran in there. Saturn still must be out of
08 18 25 00 LMP All I see is stars.
09 11 29 38 LMP The general [solar corona] glow visible to me now -
09 14 08 45 CDR Okay. I'm looking at ... Is Venus -
LMP Venus just came up.
10 22 11 28 CMP …Hey, I can see a few stars out there on this side of the window.
11 16 05 25 LMP Gosh! Who said there's no stars out there?
11 16 08 22 LMP There's the Dipper and the two pointing stars. They're right like this. Polaris is down there, somewhere.
(NB: Oral Histories can be found here).
Outside my window I can see stars -
My God, the stars are everywhere: above me on all sides, even below me somewhat, down there next to that obscure horizon. The stars are bright and they are steady. Michael Collins, Carrying the fire, discussing a Gemini spacewalk.
After a few minutes the familiar patterns of the constellations become recognisable. Michael Collins, Carrying the fire, discussing navigating with stars.
To add to the dramatic effect, we find we can see the stars again. We are in the shadow of the moon now, in darkness for the first time in three days, and the elusive stars have reappeared. Michael Collins, Carrying the fire, on entering lunar orbit.
I could see stars up to a point, past which they were obscured by a big black disc of nothing. Bill Anders, Life Magazine, Feb 03 1969. The big black disc of nothing is the moon.
As I watched the cosmos, which is ten times brighter than—ten times more stars than you can see from Earth, it was ‘Wow!’. Ed Mitchell, Oral History.
But if you held the spacecraft steady when you did this, why, you could get a very good alignment so that now you could go in with the lunar module and make a little tweak to tighten up the alignment. But you didn’t have to go through this. One of the beauties is when you look out at all these stars, you know, they go to great lengths to that teach you how to recognize constellations so you could find this star.
What they don’t teach you, all planetariums and things are showing you the sky the way you and I see it from the Earth. What they don’t tell you, when you get out in space, that all those black spots in between the stars are filled with stars, and those constellations are nowhere near as obvious as they were. If it was an obscure constellation in a planetarium, you can bet it’s hopeless out there in the real world. TK Mattingly, Oral History.
So on the way out, you’re sitting in this little attitude floating around, and you open the window and look out, and sometimes the sun’s in your face and sometimes there’s a gazillion stars. There’s so many stars, you really lose sight of what the patterns are that you’re familiar with. TK Mattingly, Oral History.
It’s really, really eerie, because it’s so black. When you’re out of the sight of the Earth and the sun, it’s really black. The only thing you can tell is the Moon must be there because there aren’t any stars over there and there’s stars over here, so somewhere between those two is where the limb of the Moon is. TK Mattingly, Oral History.
Everything you’re doing is kind of—well, why don’t I stop and look around. And with this big helmet on, look around means you’ve got to change your whole body and move. I looked at Charlie and said, “That’s really a neat picture.” He was standing up in the hatch looking out at me, and he was tethered to the inside. I’ve got the umbilical. I looked up here, and where I’ve told you about all the thousands and thousands of stars, looked out there and there wasn’t a single star anywhere. There was this deep black picture with this silver thing that only went from there to here. If you turned and looked, you could find the Moon over there. I couldn’t see the Earth anywhere. And that’s all there was in this whole picture.
For some reason, the absence of stars was really startling. I don’t know why, but it really hit. Where is the world? This is unreal. I know they’re there. The only thing that’s different is this visor is perhaps—so they say it really hurts your eyes if you—I’ll take a look. Ah, the stars are back. Whew. Okay. TK Mattingly, Oral History, discussing his EVA to retrieve film magazines during Trans-
On our flight the moon was about half lit, so there was about half a moon. So there was a little space around the back side as I was going around it where I was shadowed from both the Earth and the Sun and that was pretty amazing. I could see more stars than I could possibly imagine. It really makes you wonder about our place in the Universe and what we're all about. When you see that many stars out there you realize that those are really suns and those suns could have planets around them and all that kind of stuff. Al Worden, Web Interview
Interviewer: Could you see the outline of the milky way or were there just too many stars?
Worden: Too many stars, Avi, yes. As you know we're part of the milky way galaxy and we look at it sideways, we look through it. When there's so many stars that you look at out there it's very hard to make out anything like a milky way or anything like that. In fact, there were so many stars I had some difficulty finding any of the 37 brighter stars that we used as navigation stars because they were so bathed in starlight from the other stars around them.
Interviewer: So, for example, you would try and find Sirius and...
Worden: ...and it would be very difficult to find. And there were times when I had to let the computer drive the optics to the star that I wanted to use for navigation because I had difficulty finding it with all the other stars out there. Al Worden, Web Interview
I curved around the moon where no sunlight or Earthshine could reach me. The moon was a deep solid circle of blackness and I could only tell where it began by where the stars cut off...I turned the cabin lights off. There was no end to the stars. I could see tens perhaps hundreds of times more stars than the clearest night on Earth. With no atmosphere to blur their light I could seem them all to the limits of my eyesight. Al Worden ‘Falling to Earth’.
There was a pie shaped section of the orbit where I was over the horizon from both the Earth and the sun and that made a huge difference in the universe. Instead of seeing 37 of the brightest stars, which were our navigation stars, I saw a sheet of light, hundreds of thousands of millions more stars than we can see from the Earth. Al Worden, Smithsonian Institute interview promoting ‘Falling to Earth’.
I could see several stars, but I couldn't pinpoint them because I didn't know the surrounding stars. As long as we did not move the spacecraft around,got some distance from the earth and its light, it was possible to see constellations in the scanning telescope. Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 Technical Debrief.
First of all, just as it is on Earth the moon washes out stars around it. Prior to the moon getting into the scanning telescope you can see stars. But once the moon gets in the telescope it is very difficult to recognize individual stars or constellations. Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 Technical Debrief.
The moon, the sun, and the earth wipe out a considerable portion of the sky. It is true you can see stars out the window in the daytime, but this is only when the window is shielded from the sun, the moon, or the earth, and when you are quite a distance from the earth. Frank Borman, Apollo 8 Technical Debrief
I finally saw the first stars when we were approximately 100,000 miles from the Earth. At that time, I saw Acrux, and Alpha and Beta Centauri, but they were very dim. I saw these out of my side window. Tom Stafford, Apollo 10 Technical Debrief.
Aldrin: There was only one minor observation returning from the Moon. Looking back at it, at a time after Mars had passed behind the Moon, there was one time period where I imagined that the image of Mars was coming from a region where it couldn't come from, because it was in a dark portion of the Moon. This obviously was an optical illusion of some sort.
Armstrong: I suspect that it was, in fact, just immediately adjacent to the horizon.
Aldrin: We must have looked at it immediately after it had come from the back side.
Armstrong: Yes. Apollo 11 Technical Debrief.
When I looked in the telescope I couldn't see anything. There was no light or anything coming from there. I thought it must be because I'm not dark-
Star, Earth visibility was interesting. We could always see stars at the upper rendezvous window. We could see Dick go by us also. Alan Bean describing visibility in the LM on the lunar surface, Apollo 12 Technical Debrief.
You could look out the window and the sky was just bright, there were so many stars. You looked through the telescope and you could pick out maybe one or two. Al Worden, Apollo 15 Technical Debrief.
I could look out a window and see the star field very clearly. In fact it was much brighter than I expected it to be. There were so many stars in the field of view out the window that, in a way, it was a little difficult to find a constellation and to find the navigation stars. Al Worden, Apollo 15 Technical Debrief.
Let me comment that the stars...were easily recognizable. The numbers that were called up, cursor and spiral, were very close. There was no trouble identifying the stars and ensuring that they were, in fact, the correct stars. Dave Scott, Apollo 15 Technical Debrief discussing using the sextant on the lunar surface.
We never had any problem with that on Apollo 10. We could see all kinds of star patterns up there at night. John Young, Apollo 16 Technical Debrief discussing problems seeing stars through the telescope compared with the naked eye.
I was looking out the telescope and I didn't see any stars. And there sure were plenty to pick from...the sky was full of stars. John Young, Apollo 16 Technical Debrief discussing problems seeing stars through the telescope compared with the naked eye.
I played with the focus and apparently my problem was that it has unfocused itself. When I focused it there was apparently enough concentration of light then that I could see stars. When they were out of focus, I didn't see anything. When I focused it up, the star pattern just popped out, and they were beautiful. TK Mattingly, Apollo 16 Technical Debrief
It's not of major importance, but it's interesting that you [Ron Evans] were continually saying that it was hard to pick groups of stars and to identify groups of stars in the telescope when. you could look out the window, as long as the Sun was on the other side of the spacecraft, and identify constellations with no problem. Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 Technical Debrief.
Around the Moon, even in earthshine, which was very bright, you could pick out constellations. However , they were considerably dimmer than they were in the double umbra on the back side of the Moon. On the back side of the Moon with the double umbra, you could look out and almost see constellations as well as you could by looking out the window, but not quite as well. Ron Evans, Apollo 17 Technical Debrief.
The sun was always shining, yet the sky around us was a constant black blanket dotted with millions of stars. Buzz Aldrin, ‘Magnificent Desolation’.
The stars all around are even brighter than they are here. Buzz Aldrin, speaking to the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street, recounted in ‘Magnificent Desolation’.
As we were in the dark for the first part of the orbit, our only visual indication of the moon was the lack of stars in the vast area of space it occupied. Dave Scott, ‘Two Sides of the Moon’.
We decided to have one last television spectacular for Earth and its inhabitants. But when we looked out the windows, we could no longer find it Although we were in sunlight, all we saw was blackness and stars. Eugene Cernan, ‘Last Man on the Moon’.
Beyond that star, Alpheratz, is another and another. And over there, beyond Nunki, the same thing. Behind Formalhaut, even more stars, stretching beyond my imagination. Stars and eternal distant blackness everywhere. Eugene Cernan, ‘Last Man on the Moon’.
All you could see is just a little arc, just a real thin illuminated part of the Moon out that window. So effectively all we saw was a dark looming shape that was blocking the star field. Harrison Schmitt, Oral History.
At one point I was looking down at the surface, it would have been way west of Copernicus, and probably even getting close to the big basin called Orientale, and I saw a little tiny pinprick of light on the surface. It was almost certainly a meteor hitting the surface of the Moon and they will give off a little bit of visible light. So I had to chance to see what was effectively a shooting star hit the Moon. Harrison Schmitt, Oral History.
The sun's over here, and you're coming like this, from below, and the belly of the spacecraft away from you is into the sun. You can still see some of the stars breaking out in the sunlight. Tom Stafford, Oral History.
You know, coming in from below, you're trying to hold the inertial angle steady, but you've got the stars up there. Tom Stafford, Oral History.
We'd been out in daylight for three days, and you don't see any stars with the naked eye until you get about 80 or 90,000 miles out. There's so much reflected light from the Earth. So you don't see stars in the daytime ever with the naked eye. You can see it with optics, but not with the naked eye. Of course, at nighttime you see far more, just two orders of magnitude more. Tom Stafford, Oral History.
We needed this window so we could make observations out that window to align the spacecraft with the horizon, with the star patterns, with the geographic patterns. Wally Schirra, Oral History.
We used [stars] for reference for yaw. At night, if you couldn’t see the Earth clearly, because it’s dark just as it is when you’re down on the surface, you’re not going to get a good checkpoint. But the star field’s right there and you can say, “Ah, that planet is where it should be. That star is where it should be. That’s my yaw attitude.” Very, very precise. We’re talking about, oh, 1/1000th of a degree. The same use of the stars was used in Apollo to 1/10,000th of a degree. That’s how accurate that stuff is. Wally Schirra, Oral History.
You see the sun come around every so often as you rotate the spacecraft. Then you see the moon coming around, so through the spacecraft you get this constant parade of darkness and stars on one side, and then the Earth swings through, and then the sun swings through, and then the moon swings through, and back to the star-
On the return trip home, gazing through 240000 miles of space toward the stars and plane from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving and harmonious. Ed Mitchell, quoted in ‘The Home Planet’.
You couldn’t see any stars. And then we went into the shadow of the moon. And suddenly there were stars everywhere -
We lost the sun, right within a second of when it was supposed to, it just got dark…it was all the stars, and here was this big black area where there were no stars. Tom Stafford, ‘Voices from the moon’.
Where did all the stars go? There ain’t a star in this whole sky! I raised my visor and that made me feel better…Whew -
[I] saw all these stars, more stars than you could pick out constellations from Frank Borman, describing the view from the lunar far side, NASA article.
The stars look like little points of light or fuzzy dots. Stuart Roosa, describing the view of stars in cislunar space in ‘For all Mankind’.
The sky is absolutely black, completely black. I can see the stars up above. John Glenn, Mercury Astronaut describing the view in his orbital flight.
The stars, the sights, the sounds…they were all familiar. James Lovell describing his second flight to the moon, Carleton Community College presentation, 31/10/15.
You start to see Earth as a finite place, then when you get high enough you start to see the curvature, then you start to see the whole disk of the Earth, then you start to see it in juxtaposition to the moon, and the stars become bright because you don't have the atmosphere to block the light rays. Ed Mitchell, ‘The Wonder of it all’ documentary.
The night sky from orbit was the real surprise. I could see perhaps ten times as many stars a on the clearest night. The Milky Way was a gigantic puddle of stars. Tom Stafford, “We have capture”.
As I sat there in my own pressurised space suit with the hatch open and Gene [Cernan] hanging on the back of the spacecraft, I spotted the Southern Cross through my window and thought ‘Damn it’s lonely out here. Tom Stafford, “We have capture”.
Peering through his navigation equipment, John Young had been able to find a place in the sky where the stars were occluded, so we were pretty sure the moon was out there. Tom Stafford, “We have capture”.
After each [orbital] pass I would roll the spacecraft 180 degrees so John [Young] could realign the inertial platform by star sights. Tom Stafford, “We have capture”.
What happened was as I looked at earth and saw the cosmos, the entire universe laid out before me, with this tiny little planet and millions and billions of stars and galaxies and galactic clusters all laid out in such magnificent array, it was an internal sense of joy, it was a high, it was a wow, and the irrefutable feeling within myself that this is an intelligent system I'm looking at. Ed Mitchell, “The men of Apollo”.
We had gone into night just shortly after the docking was made. You didn't see a lot on the night side. You saw stars up above, and down below you might see the lights from a city. Neil Armstrong discussing his first Gemini flight. “First Man: The life of Neil Armstrong” by James Hansen.
I found myself idly looking out of the window of the Columbia and saw something a little unusual. It appeared brighter than any star and not quite the pinpoint of light that stars are. It was also moving relative to the stars. Buzz Aldrin describing the S-
So there was a little space around the far side of the Moon where I was shadowed from both the Earth and the Sun and that was pretty amazing. I could see more stars than I could possibly imagine...The sky is just awash of stars when you’re on the far side of the moon, and you don’t have any sunlight to cut down on the lower intensity, dimmer stars. You see them all, and it’s all just a sheet of white... I saw so many stars looking out that it was very hard to make out anything like a Milky Way. In fact, there were so many stars that I had some difficulty finding any of the 37 brighter stars we used as navigation guide stars because they were so bathed in starlight from all the other stars around them. Al Worden, web interview by Avi Solomon.
Every 2 minutes the Earth, the Moon, the Sun and a 360 degree panorama of the heavens appears in the cabin window. That was awesome, it was an overwhelming experience, and we have to realise that in space without the intervening atmosphere the heavens are ten times as bright, the stars ten times as numerous. Ed Mitchell, youtube video discussing his spiritual experience on Apollo.
It is a quiet interval and we get a chance to examine our surroundings, this strange region called cislunar space. Is it daylight? Yes, the sun is definitely shining on us. Is it dark? Yes, if we shield our eyes from the sun, the sky is flat black except for faint pinpoints of starlight. Michael Collins, Lift off, the story of America’s adventures in space.
My God the stars are everywhere, even below me. They are somewhat brighter than on Earth, but the main difference is that they don’t twinkle…Up here, above the atmosphere, the stars appear rock steady. The planet Venus also appears absurdly bright, like a 50 Watt bulb in the sky. Michael Collins, describing his Gemini X EVA, Lift off, the story of America’s adventures in space.
There is a sense of unreality here, with the absence of gravity and the tapestry of blackness broken only by an overwhelming glitter of stars that surrounded our craft. Ed Mitchell, The Way of the Explorer.
We were quite literally on our backs, feet forward during powered descent, the windows displaying nothing but a striking pattern of stars. Ed Mitchell, The Way of the Explorer.
In space there are nearly 10 times more stars visible to the naked eye than on Earth because there is no atmosphere. Likewise, familiar objects are approximately 10 times brighter. Stars and planets seem to burn against the cool blackness. There is the sense of being swaddled in the cosmos, surrounded by the beautiful silent glitter of the Milky Way and all the galaxies beyond. Ed Mitchell, The Way of the Explorer.
Stars don’t have halos, nor do they twinkle in deep space. Ed Mitchell, The Way of the Explorer.
The spacecraft was rotating to maintain the thermal balance of the Sun. What that caused to happen was that every two minutes, with every rotation, we saw the Earth, the Moon and the Sun as they passed by the window. The 360-
After sunset over the Pacific, flashing, blue-
Look at the stars. Gene Cernan, as reported by Harrison Schmitt in Diary of the 12th Man
Before us and above us stars spangled in the sky with their distant icy fire. Dave Scott, National Geographic 1973.
When I was on the back side of the moon, over two thousand miles away from my colleagues and nearly a quarter of a million miles away from the rest of you, in total darkness, with the Earth nowhere in sight, I felt I belonged there, to wander silently among the stars. There being no atmosphere to spoil my view, the stars gleamed with a steady brilliance -
As we came into the shadow of the moon, suddenly it was infinitely black, and I looked out and there were stars everywhere. As I looked out my side window suddenly the stars stopped and there was this black hole...I realised that that was the moon, blocking out the stars. Bill Anders, Earthrise documentary.
There was no earthshine, and there was no sunshine, so consequently, when we looked out the window, all the stars came out. James Lovell, First to the moon documentary.
Suddenly there were stars everywhere, more stars than you can could count, you couln't recognise the constellations because even the little stars seemed bright. And yet, as I looked over my shoulder I saw suddenly the stars disappeared. A black hole, and that was the moon. Bill Anders, First to the moon documentary.
I remember distinctly that there were so many stars I couldn't pick one out, they were just a sheet of white light. Al Worden, 2019 International Space Development Conference.
The only way that you know the moon is there is that its horizon cuts off the full view of the stars. So you can see a distinct difference. You can see the star field, and then you see the circular cut-
The moon at that time was only illuminated by very faint starlight. As I craned my neck to look out the window I could not actually see the moon but I knew something big and black, a great dark body was building up out the window. I could see stars up to a point, past which they were obscured by a big black disc of nothing. Bill Anders, in a piece written for the Daily Sketch, 16/01/1969.
You might also like to watch this brief video from the excellent GreaterSapien, which illustrates how you’ve been lied to, not by astronauts but by people who claim to know what they said and what they meant.