We Choose the Moon

By Phil Plait | July 17, 2009 7:30 am

This is pretty cool: the website We Choose The Moon (warning: very flash heavy!) is a real-time (well, real time – 40 years) exploration of the Apollo 11 mission. It has tons of video, audio, and images from Apollo 11.

As I write this, 40 years ago at this moment the Service Module/Lander assembly was about 50,000 nautical miles from the Earth, and the animation reflects that. I’ll be very curious to follow this in the coming few days and watch as Apollo 11 approaches the Moon!


Comments (32)

Links to this Post

  1. We Choose The Moon « Hazael’s Weblog | July 17, 2009
  2. The fun of interactivity. « blog.magda | March 17, 2010
  1. Dan I.

    Very very cool, I’ll have to watch the whole thing when I get home.

    Oh Phil, I saw you made CNN


    BA is quoted way down there at the bottom:

    ” In its information campaign against Apollo’s “debunkers,” NASA may have a potent ace up its sleeve, however. Its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is now circling the moon with powerful cameras, snapping crisp pictures that could reveal Apollo 11’s Eagle lander squatting on the moon’s surface.

    Then again, conspiracy theorists may just say NASA doctored the photos.

    “Will the LRO’s incredibly high-resolution images of the lunar surface, including, eventually, the Apollo landing sites, finally quell the lunacy of the Moon Hoax believers? Obviously it won’t,” writes astronomer Phil Plait in his blog on Discover magazine’s Web site. “These true believers don’t live in an evidence-based world.” ”

    You’ve officially made the big time now.

  2. the bug guy

    Pretty cool, but one geek nitpick. Who did they get to do the spacecraft graphics and did they even look at a photograph of the CSM or LEM?

  3. You can also download a Moon Widget to keep on your desktop and watch the time count down

    Lunar orbit begins in 51:09:00


  4. Stone Age Scientist

    Hi Phil,

    Yes, heavy in Flash indeed. I had to wait for a while before anything turned up on the screen (right after the intro). I thought either my computer had gone bonkers, or my FF version needs to be updated, again (v3.5 caused me some real problems that I had to switch back to the older version). I guess I’m used to seeing some Loading animation whenever there’s a need to wait.

  5. BigBob

    Been watching this since yesterday and I find that if the page is visible, (ie browser not minimised) then yes it will use 100% of my CPU and the machine can do nothing else. *BUT* if I minimise the browser, it uses only around 20% of CPU and I still get to hear all that superb audio in real time (GMT -350400).
    Meanwhile I have NASA TV showing me the preparation for docking of STS-127 to ISS.
    I’m loving this.

  6. Stone Age Scientist

    Some of those pictures are so clear, it’s kind of eerie, and at the same time disheartening, to see JFK like it was only yesterday.

  7. BigBob

    NASATV shows a view from one vessel to the other now as they approach for docking. It’s just a bright point in the distance. Awesome. Science eh; woof woof.

  8. I hope they up the number of connections when it comes time to land on the 20th. About T-1m:30s yesterday the connection became overloaded and wasn’t available for several minutes. The sequences transitions are very cool. I think it’s a great thing for younger people to experience. It’ll be cool to replay the mission after the 20th too. A great tool for educators perhaps!

  9. gopherbroke

    PLEASE tell me that they are going to do this for all the moon launches!! I have been glued to “We Choose The Moon” since yesterday and as much as I am enjoying it…being a fly on the wall for the Apollo 13 launch would be too cool for words

  10. Murff

    Good stuff.

    I just did a little poll over at CNN, out of about 90k people, 86% believe the moon landings were NOT faked.

  11. That site is very cool. And I find this comic does a great job of poking a bit of fun at the hoaxers in the context of that site..

    http://www.reallifecomics.com/ (on Monday and later the link will be http://www.reallifecomics.com/archive/090717.html)

  12. BigBob

    gopherbroke, I don’t know about a ‘WeChooseTheMoon’ for Apollo 13 but the NASA History Division have Apollo flight journals on-line for your reading / listening pleasure. On the Apollo 11 journal, some sections have many links to MP3s so you can hear exchanges between CapCom and the crew. There are also many useful diagrams of all sorts. You’ll see. The intention is to journalise all the Moon missions, but no Apollo 13 as yet.

    history dot nasa dot gov /afj


  13. “Blue Moon” – story commissioned by Oli Smith. Just imagine David Tennant reading it!



  14. Ad Hominid

    OT (sort of)

    Here they are! LRO Sees Apollo Landing Sites

    Later images will have 2-3 times better resolution. The best of this first group is shot of the Apollo 14 site, in which footprints and various instruments are visible.

  15. Jeff


    That’s the site where the LRO Apollo image is. It shows clearly the shadow of Apollo 11 lander.

    As a former HBer , I 100% fess up we were wrong. Fellow HBer, come out of woodwork and fess up too. I’ll tell you why: it’s 0% chance the people involved in LRO could also be in on the Apollo hoax, which wasn’t hoaxed after all. So don’t tell us this was photoshopped. If you do, you enter kooky country, because to continue to hold a belief in the presence of evidence to the contrary, is irrationality. Before, I think some of your arguments made sense, but now it’s over.

  16. Charles Boyer

    “being a fly on the wall for the Apollo 13 launch would be too cool for words”

    You may be thinking of Apollo 12, not Apollo 13. About 37 into the flight of 12, after a launch in a rainstorm, the vehicle discharged lightning through itself and the ionized rocket exhaust. Another strike at 52 seconds took out most of the command module circuitry, including the guidance indicator.

    Flying a Saturn V blind is no way to go through life, son.

    Fortunately, the IBM-built Instrumentation Computer Unit used magnetic-core memory and was not affected, allowing the mission to continue, along with a quick call for a reconfiguration made by a ground controller who recalled a similar situation in a simulation during training.

    With Apollo 13, other than the inboard engine shutting down early on the second stage, the launch was fairly uneventful from a problem standpoint. The compensation for that mission was burning the outboard engines for a longer period. 13’s incidents began later, during the translunar coast.

  17. Charles Boyer

    By the way, you can read the transcripts of 12’s launch here:


    000:00:37 Gordon (onboard): What the hell was that?

    000:00:38 Conrad (onboard): Huh?

    000:00:39 Gordon (onboard): I lost a whole bunch of stuff; I don’t know …

    000:00:40 Conrad (onboard): Turn off the buses.

    Public Affairs Office – “40 seconds.”

    000:00:42 Carr: Mark.

    000:00:43 Carr: One Bravo.

    000:00:43 Conrad (onboard): Roger. We had a whole bunch of buses drop out.

    000:00:44 Conrad: Roger. We [garble] on that. [Long pause.]

    000:00:45 Bean (onboard): There’s nothing – it’s nothing …

    000:00:47 Gordon (onboard): A circuit …

    000:00:48 Conrad (onboard): Where are we going?

    000:00:50 Gordon (onboard): I can’t see; there’s something wrong.

    000:00:51 Conrad (onboard): AC Bus 1 light, all the fuel cells …

    000:00:56 Conrad (onboard): I just lost the platform.

    Public Affairs Office – “Altitude a mile and a half now. Velocity 1,592 feet per second.”

  18. Matthaus Kepler

    Craig Ferguson talked about Apollo 11 and ripped on Moon Hoaxers in his monologue last night. He starts talking about it at the 4:20 mark in this YouTube video.


  19. doofus

    I’m getting all goose-bumpy rooting for the re-creations to make it.

    (Duh, I know they do, but it’s still kind of exciting none-the-less.)

    At the 20 year anniversary, I think it was Discovery Channel that brought the original broadcasts “live” at the same time as it all happened in ’69.

    Anyone know of any tv doing that this time around?

  20. gopherbroke

    I should have said the Apollo 13 MISSION… but your right… 12 was a nail biter as well… makes me proud to work for IBM ūüėČ

  21. Crudely Wrott

    Like all space enthusiasts old enough I am recalling the Apollo mission of forty years ago. I’d been following the space program since Sputnik. My interest and excitement lit many hours of my youth and it was a great boon that there were people who were able to explain the science and the adventure of space flight to us earthbound onlookers.

    I recall Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov chiefly, for each had an education and a published track record that gave scientific gravitas to their insight as well as their fiction.

    And I recall Walter Cronkite, anchor man for many years for the CBS Evening News. More than any other source for up to date and extended coverage, Uncle Walt was always there at six o’clock, just before supper. He always had the latest information and could call on able sources to help elucidate the technical aspects and the unknown demands that might be imposed on the astronauts.

    He helped introduce me to boldness by speaking plainly about the risk to those who slip the surly bonds. His authoritative demeanor and his reluctance to do other than report accurately served as an example to this young man.

    I never worshiped him. I did like him. And I respected and trusted him because he earned it. Even a child can tell some things like that.

    Walter died today. He was 92.

    And that’s the way it is.

  22. Buzz Parsec

    Peace, Walter…

  23. Joey Joe Joe

    Wow! Even back in 1969 they had the “deep space rumble”.

  24. john sirre

    I still prefer some sonic djembe booms

  25. I love the audio. I love how it’s mostly quiet. I keep the audio on while I work, and each time I hear those guys voices, I think, Wow, what badasses.

    I would’ve liked more attention to the animation, so that I could fully experience their tininess and the expanse of the quarter million gap and the blackness beyond blackness that surrounds the two little marbles, the earth and moon. I like comprehending a living being making its way off of one of the balls and landing on the other. It’s too effing much.

  26. David Duffy

    Have you guys see the transcripts http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history/mission_trans/AS11_TEC.PDF I know it’s a bit of an anorak thing to do but it’s just unbelievable reliving it again 40 years later!

  27. The problem with this app is you dont want to leave your computer or you will miss something (like when the astronauts saw aliens :)

    I found a way to play just the audio stream on my iPhone, so I could leave the house.

    get Tuner or FStream from the app store.

    use this url for mission audio: http://sc8.sjc.llnw.net/stream/aol_moon1

  28. fred

    Thanks Todd! I was looking for something for the iphone ūüėÄ

  29. It was fun to reenact the events using the We Choose The Moon website but like you said, it is really Flash heavy.

    The Apollo 11 mission is really one of the world’s most significant achievements. And John F. Kennedy’s moon speech was one of the speeches that helped inspire the Americam people and secure the massive funding for NASA and the space exploration, adventure and journey of that decade.




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