Number 10

Every so often a hoax nut will come up with something you haven’t seen before, and it takes a tiny amount of effort to find out the answer to their question.

One such question is “what’s this number 10 in the TV programme here?”. This is the programme, a 6 hour compilation of film clips and TV broadcasts covering the entire mission. This particular broadcast occurred as a live TV transmission that started at 19:52 GMT on 19/07/69, and ended 40 minute later at 20:32.

The alleged number 10’s appearance briefly bobs in and out as the camera gets the window frame in view on two occasions, and partially on a few others. Here they all are:






So there we have it: 6 appearances of a bright feature, with two of those appearances resolving themselves into an apparent number ‘10’, or maybe an ‘I’ and an ‘O’. It’s worth pointing out here that the bright white dot in the bottom centre is some of fault with the camera, possibly burn out from the sun. The ground refer to it here:

078:24:24 McCandless: a little bright crater in the... ...the bottom of the picture. I guess that's the spot on the tube.

What explanations have been offered by people convinced it is a hoax?

Well, the first one that came up was that it was some sort of label on a simulator, similar to the whole ‘C-Rock’ saga. The feature appears and then disappears, allegedly as an unseen hand suddenly realises the error and removes it.

This particular theory holds absolutely no water at all as the ‘10’ appears in several different lunar locations - compare its position in the images top left and bottom right!

If a careful look is taken at the appearance of the ‘10’, the ‘O’ has thicker in the left and right half of the ‘number’, and that thickness is almost vertical on the screen - at a different angle to the ‘1’, which suggests it isn’t a number at all.


We’re then left with only two alternatives: it’s a reflected view of something, or something that’s part of the space craft itself.

It can’t be something reflected from the inside, as it is obscured by external parts of the spacecraft and the window frame. It also moves with the camera, whereas a reflected image like that would move independently.

Jarrah White has argued against it being a reflection from the outside for the same reasons, also arguing that such reflections can’t happen. He’s not entirely correct, there are examples of bright objects being reflected in the multiple panes of glass used in the LM and CSM windows, like this:

Again though, this isn’t quite right - you can see both the source of the reflection and the reflection - in the Apollo broadcast you see only one feature.

The clue to what it might actually be is in seen earlier in the TV broadcast, but which I’ve not shown above.

On the left below is a still taken at 01:08:06, which shows not a bright reflection, but an actual structure in exactly the same place as the ‘10’.

The image in the centre zooms in on it - note the small flare on the right hand side of it.

The image on the right superimposes it on another frame with the ‘10’ visible:

What we’re looking here is one of the Reaction Control System thrusters on the lunar module, with light reflecting off the cones on the left and right, and around the rim of the central one, flaring off that rim in two distinct places.

Full disclosure: my initial knee-jerk reaction was that the lettering, or numbering, that we’re seeing here was marked on the windows themselves, with the obvious candidate being these markings on the CSM rendez-vous windows:

As we can see in the photographs, however, the font is different to our alleged numbers/letters, and a different colour. The rendez-vous windows would also have a pretty clear view of not much else other than the lunar module. There is footage taken from other broadcasts where that numbering is visible, and it appears almost black against the much brighter outside view.

We can find similar examples from other missions, like these from Apollos 9 and 10.

The flaring and reflections exactly matches those seen in the ABC broadcast.

Other people have suggested that the lettering is perhaps part of the TV labelling (see an example to the left) accidentally superimposed during broadcast, but again the font is incorrect.

If not lettering or numbering, what is it?

His theory is that the entire broadcast is of the models used in the various training simulators. Those simulators used light reflected off ball bearings in a sphere to simulate stars, and his claim is that the features we’re seeing here are some sort of bleed through of that projection through the lunar surface.

This is despite the fact that:

- the lunar surface shown here when zoomed in close is considerably more detailed than any of the simulators used.

- the reflected objects move independently of the lunar surface, indicating that they are lights from, or light reflecting off, objects inside the CSM cabin,

- these objects go in and out of focus compared with the lunar surface, which doesn’t change focus.

- absolutely no stars are seen on any of the frequent occasions that the camera pans up and shows the blackness of space above the lunar horizon.

Not a single star visible anywhere!

Many conspiracy theorists seized gleefully on their find, and urged people to save it in case those evil NASA types deleted it, even though it’s available in several places.

They point with arched eyebrows and knowing winks at the fact that the much higher quality footage visible at the Apollo Flight Journal is cropped - allegedly to hide the ‘10’:

One youtuber has another theory, based on the appearance of other  regularly spaced reflections that appear later in the broadcast, such as this example:

Other views looking down capture another piece of familiar LM structure - see on the left in an Apollo 9 photograph.

It is, however, still visible on one part of their version, and the RCS structure visible at the start of the broadcast is similarly omitted. As usual, NASA is simultaneously all powerful at controlling its media output but spectacularly incompetent at doing so.

Why is it cropped like that? Who knows. Who cares? Ask them. The fact is this alleged number is just a reflection of the RCS structure in bright sunlight, broadcast on live TV from lunar orbit.

Here’s one of those superimposed on the TV broadcast:

Notice that the frame position is identical.

A little later in the broadcast (01:20:54) we have these shots, taken with the camera zoomed quite a way in as it moves between windows and rests on the lunar module (it can be seen zooming out when it moves to view the moon again).