EDUCATION: Mashing Moon Myths

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Science  28 Apr 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5773, pp. 505
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5773.505a

To conspiracy theorists, this photo of Apollo 16 Commander John Young in midjump furnishes telling evidence that NASA faked the moon landings in the 1960s and 1970s. Why does the flag seem to be flapping when the moon has no atmosphere, they demand, and where is Young's shadow if the only illumination is sunlight from the viewer's left? At Moon Base Clavius, systems engineer Jay Windley of Salt Lake City, Utah, dissects the lunar hoax arguments, which are still circulating. A strength is Windley's meticulous analysis of photos and video. The wrinkles and creases in the flag cause its apparent motion, he notes. And the edge of Young's shadow—which is offset because he's above the surface—is visible at the right of the photograph.

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