Claim: Australia was not visible from the moon for Apollo 11 Broadcasts


New Member
A claim [on Facebook] is being made that Australia was not visible from the moon at the time logs indicate and would not be able to transmit a direct signal to the Parkes Radio Astronomy Site in New South Wales, for television broadcast. The claimant is borrowing some of his argument from AULIS, specifically from this page:


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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
(Your post has a problem. The link and the material in the external source box don't match! The material in the box is not from this link to the AULIS site. This is confusing.)

There are two interwoven claims being made here.

1. Australia was not in line of sight at the time of the TV broadcast.

This claim is being made by someone unspecified. You haven't included a link. But your material inside the external source box is from that person... who has copied some material from the AULIS site written by "Phil Kouts PhD."

2. Photos are faked. Australia is shown in fake photos to account for the claim that the tracking station receiving the broadcasts from Tranquility Base was in Australia.

This is an expansion on material from the AULIS site you have linked to. The claim on that site is merely that there are inconsistencies with two Apollo 11 photos; therefore they are probably faked. I'll deal with that in a second post.

Claim One is based on the simplest kind of error. The times are incorrect.

Unknown source, quoted in OP:
The Author has not accounted for the fact that the EVA and the broadcast did not start until 6 1/2 hours after the landing.

Important UTC times from NASA Apollo 11 Timeline:

The Parkes Radio Telescope is in New South Wales - the southeast corner of Australia - which is what we see in the view below, just on the upper left edge of the visible Earth.

Stellarium view of Earth from Apollo 11 landing site; 2:54 UTC. First clear TV picture received.

EVA ended (hatch closed). 05:11 UTC

And the actual Apollo 11 photos. Small b is from a photo taken during the EVA.
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
This second post will concentrate on the material from the AULIS site alone. (This is the site of "Phil Kouts PhD" which is a pseudonym for... someone.) All material from inside the external source boxes is from:

The second thing to account for is when and from where the two photos presents were actually taken.

In other words the one he has labeled b is purportedly from the surface of the Moon during EVA. The one he has labeled a was taken from the Command Module.

He presents this as conundrum because:

1. They must have been taken at the same time because the cloud patterns match.
2. They show the same view of Australia.
3. The command module photos were taken before the landing.
4. So perhaps b was taken a day later. "To obtain this correspondence, the time interval between the two photos should be quite precisely 24 hr and 55 min. What a perfect match!" (And what about those clouds?)

But #3 seems to be his interpretation of what NASA says.

I suspect the two photos were taken at about the same time. I haven't got time just now to work that out. Maybe someone else can take over.
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Senior Member.

Figure 3. Earthrise before Apollo 11 landing
Figure 3 is AS11-44-6553 from this series. The Image Library states that these pictures of Earth were taken just before the landing. They are described as: ‘View of the Earth from the Command Module Columbia, possibly at AOS on either Rev 12 or Rev 13’. (Retrieved from the Apollo 11 Image Library on 28 December 2006.) Here, the AOS stands for “Acquisition of Signal” from the CM appearing from behind the Moon.

well this bit, the Image Library says

and 6549 is basically the same shot


Senior Member.
Earth photographs taken during the Apollo 11 mission
a) Part of frame AS11-44-6553 from lunar orbit.
b) Part of frame AS11-40-5924 from the lunar surface.
i guess it would be helpful to time 40-5924

and the first step on the moon is labeled as 109:24:00ish (GMT/UTC 02:56:15 July 21, 1969)

first step.JPG


New Member
(Your post has a problem. The link and the material in the external source box don't match! The material in the box is not from this link to the AULIS site. This is confusing.)

This claim is being made by someone unspecified. You haven't included a link. But your material inside the external source box is from that person... who has copied some material from the AULIS site written by "Phil Kouts PhD."

The claimant is someone from a facebook discussion I'm having with. During my own Google search I found that there was some material from the claimant that was derived from AULIS. I did mention in my description though that only some of his argument came from AULIS. Sorry for the confusion.

Many thanks for your helpful detailed responses.
Not sure how this one escaped me, what with Earth in Apollo images being something of a specialist subject and all, apologies if this is no longer any use and for the mild thread necromancy.

Much of the relevant detail has been covered, namely that not only is it an extremely simple task to use any number of astronomy software packages and websites that will display the Earth in its proper configuration (in terms of the landmasses and oceans on view, the placement of the terminator and its position in the lunar sky), but also to check basic facts.

There is an extremely good website discussing the role of Australia's receiving stations in the Apollo mission generally, and Apollo 11 in particular:

The owner of the site is a very nice gentleman and is happy to correspond with people who have an interest in the subject. It would not have been difficult for the Aulis writer to have done some fact checking, or the person with whom the OP was having the discussion.

While there is no specific mention of the Earth being photographed on the surface during the Apollo 11 EVA, there is a record of it being photographed during the broadcast. Here is a screenshot from the broadcast of Aldrin taking a couple of photographs by the base of the LM:

The crew also discuss what they are doing as they try to get the photographs (already included in the posts above)

In fairness not all versions of the EVA footage show the full width of the broadcast, [particularly the restored ones), so most people won't have seen that particular view. Most of the youtube videos just show Buzz's shadow until he emerges into view to take the subsequent images of the LM footpads.

The Apollo 11 Earthrise image shown in a previous post was taken approximately 30 minutes earlier, as indicated by the gap between the Earth limb and the Australian coast.

I'm not sure the Stellarium interpretation given above is correct - my own calculations show Australia rotated much more into view by hatch closure, and Fourmilab's Earthview (which is definitely using UTC) of the view from the moon at the time of the surface image shows this:

There were also images taken from inside the LM after the EVA showing Earth, and while they are not perfectly in focus Australia is clearly visible, eg AS11-37-5506

Australia has not only visibly moved, but it has moved in a way that is completely consistent with the mission timeline.

All of the images of Earth show views completely consistent with the historical records and documentation and can be verified by up to 3 different weather satellite images, all of which were publicly available at the time.

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
I'm not sure the Stellarium interpretation given above is correct - my own calculations show Australia rotated much more into view by hatch closure, and Fourmilab's Earthview (which is definitely using UTC) of the view from the moon at the time of the surface image shows this:


I think the rotation is the same. It's the tilt that's different, with the Stellarium version showing the northern hemisphere tilted toward the camera.
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