The Moon Walk Conspiracy

Nope, this has nothing to do with Michael Jackson.

I caught part of a special on the conspiracy theory about America’s moon landing which occurred 40 years ago yesterday.

(Or which was faked 40 years ago yesterday, depending on your own position.)

The section I caught focused on the photos taken on the surface of the moon and why many people think the photos are faked. The biggest argument revolves around the lighting in the images. In some of them, the sun is visible somewhere in the frame, and in others it is assumed to be behind the camera at the moment the image was captured. In either case, the argument goes that all shadows should point in the same direction: away from the sun.

A few of the photos offered as “proof” of a faked moon landing have shadows that seem to go in two different directions. Since this can’t possibly happen, conspiracy theorists insist, they weren’t really on the moon: the astronauts were in a studio designed to look like the moon to fool everyone.

There are two problems with this little conspiracy theory.

The first, and most obvious, is that their argument doesn’t go from Point A to Point B: it jumps from A to somewhere around M. Even if the doubters are correct that photos have been doctored, that, in and of itself, doesn’t prove anything about the moon landing itself being an elaborate fake. To argue otherwise is like saying that any portrait that has been retouched is proof that the person depicted as being on the beach was really sitting in front of some pretty backdrop.

Photos are retouched all the time. It’s done to make certain details more clear, and to make other, less desirable details less clear. And it can all happen with a photo that is otherwise authentic.

NASA may well have enhanced certain parts of images, lightening areas that might be too dark to be readable otherwise, for example. Hey, even in the days before Photoshop, if they can build a vehicle that can launch someone into space, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they can doctor an image relatively well.

But even the most doctored image you can imagine does not, in and of itself, prove that our astronauts did not actually land on the moon.

The other little problem is more subtle. It involves the lighting issue the conspiracy theorists raise so enthusiastically. They insist that the sun must be the only light source, so wherever the sun is, all shadows must correspond.

Have these people ever taken a stroll on a moonlit night?

That’s right: I said moonlit. The moon itself doesn’t generate light: that light is reflected from the sun. If the moon can reflect sunlight and bounce it back to the earth, why can’t the earth reflect sunlight as well? There’s your second light source for the photos.

To be fair, I haven’t done some high-tech astrological exam to determine exactly where the moon, earth and sun were at the precise moments these photos were taken, but then I suspect the conspiracy theorists haven’t, either. They want you to doubt the image, and in their logic, if the photo is in doubt, the entire moon landing is in doubt.

You must decide for yourself whether you think man has ever set foot on the moon. But you shouldn’t base your decision on arguments that don’t make sense.


  1. […] Patrick K. Phillips – Patrick Phillips’ neutral article focuses on the photographic images produced by NASA. There have been many arguments that the photographs and wind occurrences were unnatural. The lighting in the article suggests that the sun was part of the image at hand. Patrick does a great job explaining in further detail why the myth is still at stake, or why it has been squashed. […]

  2. Hey Patrick, a few years ago I stumbled onto the NASA.com link and found a treasure trove of images from the moon landing the public can tap into and view. Hundreds of stills and videos.

    I actually flipped through the handbook on how to unload, set-up and drive the LUNAR ROVER. Be prepared. It’s still sitting up there, ready to go. There was no ignition lock/key.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.