5.10 How come the spacecraft casts an impossibly huge shadow?

IN A NUTSHELL: It doesn’t. That’s not the shadow of the Apollo vehicle cast on the lunar surface, it’s the close-up silhouette of one of its small maneuvering thrusters.


THE DETAILS: On page 13 of his book NASA Mooned America!, Ralph Rene shows a photograph that he describes as “the apex of chicanery”. He claims that it shows, in the lower left corner, “the shadow [...] from the engine shroud whose diameter is 8.5 feet [2.6 meters] or from one of the LM’s “small directional thrusters which are 6 inches [15 centimeters] in diameter”.

Rene wonders sarcastically what kind of a “wondrous place is this Moon of ours” if an engine shroud or thruster can “cast a shadow over 79 miles [127 km] away”.

Figure 5.10-1. The page of Rene’s book showing the allegedly fake Apollo photograph.


As usual, we should ask ourselves why NASA would be so sloppy as to publish a photograph which showed a blatantly impossible phenomenon and thus would give away the fakery.

Actually, if we examine the original photograph (AS11-37-5437) instead of relying on Rene’s very poor duplicate, it becomes clear that what Rene described as a shadow cast on the surface of the Moon isn’t a shadow at all: it is nowhere as dark as the real shadows cast by the mountains and craters and actually has metallic reflections in its upper conical part.


Figure 5.10-2. Photograph AS11-37-5437 (Apollo 11).


In actual fact it’s the silhouette of one of the thruster quads of the lunar module’s upper stage, as can be seen in photo AS17-147-22527, taken during Apollo 17.

Figure 5.10-3. Detail of photo AS17-147-22527 (Apollo 17).


In other words, this is not the distant shadow of a part of the spacecraft: it’s the part itself, which is a few feet away from the observer. As often occurs, an alleged Moon mystery is spawned simply because the conspiracy theorist failed to perform basic research and inspect the original images.