Happy 22nd, Hubble!

By Phil Plait | April 24, 2012 11:08 am




Hubble cannot see the Apollo artifacts on the Moon.

This question is sent to me roughly once a month, and sometimes even more often: why don’t we shut up the people who think the Apollo Moon landings were faked by pointing Hubble at the Moon and taking pictures of the Apollo sites?

Well, one reason is that, duh, NASA and astronomers have better things to do than try to prove something blaringly obvious to people who would just claim the resulting images are faked anyway.

But also, Hubble cannot see the artifacts on the Moon! They’re way too small.

This surprises a lot of folks, since they’re used to seeing razor-sharp images of nebulae and galaxies. However, remember that while those objects may be far away, they are also very, very big. Light years across, maybe thousands of light years across. The remains of the lunar landers are only 4 meters across. That’s a tad smaller.

Sure, you say, but the Moon’s a lot closer, right? Yeah, it is, but it turns out it’s not close enough.

You can calculate how small an object a telescope can resolve (that is, see as more than just a one pixel wide dot) using really basic algebra. It depends mostly on the telescope’s mirror size. When you do this for Hubble, you get an angular measure of about 0.1 arcseconds, a tiny amount to be sure. The Moon is 1800 arcseconds across, so 0.1 arcseconds corresponds to about 200 meters on the Moon! In other words, something has to be bigger than a football stadium on the Moon before Hubble can see it.

It’s surprising, I know, but that’s how the math works out. The lunar lander is about 0.002 arcseconds in size, well beyond the capabilities of any normal telescope (go to that link above for more info on ways this still might work).

So really, the only — and best — way to see the Apollo artifacts is to go back to the Moon. Of course, the Moon hoax believers will still deny it’s real. Their refusal to see reality is cosmic in its proportions.



Comments (15)

  1. Hippo Birdie Two Ewe!
    Hippo Birdie Two Ewe!
    Hippo Birdie Deer Hubble!
    Hippo Birdie Two Ewe!

    And Men With Oars! ūüėÄ

  2. Dutch Railroader

    It’s especially important to understand that even th0ugh we’re 22 years into the mission, the telescope remains a unique resource and is still doing frontier research. A few years ago the opportunity was offered to do extremely large multi-year programs of the sort that could not be done early on. There were 39 proposals submitted of which only 4 could be accepted. Clearly. with these programs alone we could have solidly booked the next decade of the telescope, never mind all the regular programs that also remain on the cutting edge.

    Sadly, the Hubble will not last forever, and despite 22 years to get ready, we have nothing at all in the pipeline to replace it.

  3. Jon

    Space Shuttle Atlantis is working on Hubble even as you write this? Did I wake up this morning and travel back in time or something? Not funny, too soon! *sniff*

  4. julianpenrod

    The links to the articles on Meryl Dorey were missing from the Discover Magazine website main page and, when that happens, contact often lags. I’m placing replies to responses here.
    In response to Ken, I have placed many items on a number of websites about chemtrails. I didn’t place an item on Rense, I was probably quoted.
    Gunnar seems intent on suggesting that I referred to individuals as anti God out of an overweaning regard for what I think. If someone is pro God and another disagrees with them, then that other is definitively anti God. Also, Gunnar doesn’t seem to be able to realize I didn’t say Plait proved a negative! I said that declaring that vaccines don’t cause autism would require proving a negative!
    Note, though, how none of those claiming to respect “science” pointed out that claiming vaccines do not cause autism was invalid. How easily they bend rules for their own purposes.
    In a more general sense, Plait manages to get an entire airline to stop airing the interview just by expressing his discontent. Intermittently, I would smell the rotten egg smell of a natural gas leak from a manhole near where I live and called the town health department about it. Trying to contact them repeatedly for more than four years, I never received a reply, nor did they even try to do anything about it. It was only after the steam pipe explosion in New York that they acted. Those in positions of money and influence don’t respond to “the public”. But, if you’re acting as a shill for pharmaceutical mega giants looking to make people sicker so they can sell them more recycled pterochamical waste they call “srugs”, you can get airlines to do whatever you want!
    And how many defending vaccines even know what evidnece of techniques were used to “verify” that they were safe? And how many are saying the drug companies are right because they’re rich or the companies claim to be “scientific” or those defending vaccines simply despise out of hand those who don’t dismiss out of hand unconventional ideas? To be sure, now that the challenge has been made, the drug companies can make carefully sanitized versions of the “evidence” available so those who promote the drug companies getting obscenely richer can pretend they know what they’re talking about.
    And how putridly “ironic” that Plait should say the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Where was Ms. Dorey’s freedom respected? Plait and his ilk bloodthirstily eagerly invoke the idea of Constitutional guarantees only being applicable on government property! That’s a common tactic of the New World Order.
    And consider Plait’s outrage at American Airlines saying people didn’t need to listen to the interview. The same ilk as the defenders of “science” here pushed for decades for the vicious degradation of culture, promoting everything from nudity to vulgarity in the media, saying if people didn’t like it, they didn’t need to look! How they change the rules they demand for others when it comes to their own wants.
    “Science” said that the identical compositions of earth rocks and moon rocks was indisputable “proof” that a planetoid struck earth, hurling the material of the moon off. Now, it’s being said that that’s unreasonable since, if there was another body involved, the compositions should be different, there should be signs of another body! What was once called unquestionable “proof” is now shown to be short-sighted and shallow! It seems only a matter of time before the “uncontestable proof” that leads Plait to announce that they proved a negative will be shown to be illegitimate.

  5. Ha im older. I feel special! Jp lol its brilliant!

  6. Calli Arcale

    22! My goodness. I feel the way I feel when I see some of my younger cousins, the ones I babysat when they were very small, and wonder how it is they can be all grown up now. How can Hubble be 22? I feel old….

    julianpenrod, if you can find this article to comment on, what keeps you from finding the American Airlines article and commenting on this? Your comments are not more likely to be read by the people you’re responding to when placed on a totally unrelated article which just happened to be on top at the time.

  7. Messier Tidy Upper

    Happy 22nd birthday Hubble Space observatory and thankyou for everything you’ve done! :-)


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