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Flying the flag… for Apollo…

Look at this picture – no, properly. Look At This Picture…

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Do you know what that is? I won’t blame you if you don’t. Here, I’ll give you a clue… it’s this, but seen from above…

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That’s the Apollo 17 landing site, as seen by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. You can see the descent stage of the Lunar Module very clearly. You can also see something… else…

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Yes, you read that correctly. That little line of dark pixels is the very flag, planted on the Moon, by the Apollo 17 astronauts, after they stepped down from the hatch of the lunar module and Walked On The Moon. The same flag that you can see Gene Cernan standing next to on this iconic image…

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… the same flag you can see both Gene Cernan and Jack Schmidt standing beside here…

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Many people are surprised that the flag is still standing there; for years it’s been assumed that the flags planted by the Apollo astronauts would have been reduced to tatters of bleached fabric, or even to dust, by decades of exposure to UV radiation and celestial sand-blasting the relentless rain of micrometeorites. So this picture is both surprising and exciting. It suggests that, even though it toppled over when the Eagle’s ascent stage blasted off from the Moon, the Stars and Stripes planted by Armstrong and Aldrin is still there, lying on the ground, waiting to be photographed – or even salvaged – in the future. Wouldn’t that be something? 🙂

So… and come on, you knew this was coming… looks like the Apollo Moan Hoax Believers have been slapped across the face with a wet fish yet again! We now have a photograph of a flag standing on the Moon, right where it was thrust into the lunar surface by astronauts. As far as I’m concerned that’s it, Game Over. Of course, die-hard Hoax Believers won’t buy it, not for a moment; they have too much time and face invested in carrying on with their little crusade to back down now. They’ll say that “a few pixels prove nothing”, that it’s just a Photoshop job by someone at NASA. Whatever. They can go on believing what they want to… while the rest of us laugh at them, knowing that in the “My Big Book Of Stupid Things To Believe”, believing that the Moon landings were faked is right there at the top of page 1.

I genuinely wish that these Hoax Believers would all have an epiphany, at the same time, that would open their eyes to the wonder, drama and beauty of Apollo, because they are missing out on so much! I mean, what’s better for getting the most out of life? a) believing, and telling others, against all the overwhelming and unquestionable evidence there is,  that the Moon landings were hoaxed and billions of people have been lied to for a generation, or b) being able to go outside on a clear night, look up at the sky, see the Moon shining there and think “Some of us… some of my stupid, brilliant, arrogant, kind, selfish, generous, destructive and creative species actually stood on that…”?

What would it take? What would it actually take to convince these people that It Actually Happened? I honestly despair for them. I mean, the people who lurch onto the auditions stage on X FACTOR in their shell suits and fajke gangsta jewelry, convinced they can sing when really they can’t carry a tune in a rucksack are deluded, but Moon Hoax Believers make them seem like pictures of sanity and reason. And if you’re one of them, and found that last remark insulting, well, sorry, but I don’t care! You don’t deserve any tolerance, or understanding, or reasoning with, not when there are pictures like this…

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Look at it, Hoax Believers! How did NASA fake that image, a portrait of of Apollo 17’s landing site, taken by one of her crew, from far away? That was his home – that tiny, fragile, oasis of a spacecraft, sat in the middle of a vast, dusty plain with mountains behind it..! Why doesn’t that breathtaking image fill you with wonder, like it does countless millions of other people? How come you are so immune to the sheer beauty of that picture? How can you look at it and NOT feel your heart race a little faster, thinking “Look what we did… look what we did..!”..?

And how can anyone look at this brilliant picture and not feel a shudder of pride and wonder run through them..?

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That’s all the Saturn V launches in a line. Doesn’t that picture just grab you by the throat and shake you? Look at all that power, all that energy… look at how beautiful those rockets were, how majestically they rose into the air… This poster puts it so well…

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Which is a really good point, one that is totally passed over by Hoax Believers. They’re not, as far as I know, disputing the fact that they all launched, that they weren’t faked, right? How can they, when hundreds of thousands of people witnessed those launches in person, standing at the Cape, shielding their eyes from the Sun, staring open-mouthed at the ascending rockets as the crackling blast wave from lift off flapped their hideously checked trousers and migraine-inducing patterned skirts around them?

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This is one of those questions that makes me want to jab my finger between the eyes of every Hoax believer and ask them “Tell me, why your precious, beloved Hoax would need so many launches? Why not just launch Apollo 11, fake that landing, then say “Ok, enough – we did it…” and walk away from it all?”

Answer: because there was no conspiracy, there was no hoax, it was not faked. And anyone who chooses to believe othwise is an idiot.

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Aurora tonight?

Hmmm. I just received an email alert telling me that there’s a lot of “auroral activity” at the moment… no promises, but MIGHT be worth keeping an eye on the skty after dark tonight (Wed)…

Report on IYA “MoonWatch”

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Hi all, I’m happy to be able to report that last night’s Eddington AS “MoonWatch” was a success – okay, a limited one, but a success nonetheless. 🙂

The weather was pretty poor, as you all probably noticed, with the Moon hidden for most of the time behind swiftly-moving veils of high murky cloud, so glimpses of it were fuzzy as well as few and far between. But it did peep out now and again, so we still managed to show the Moon and its craters to a total of at least 50, maybe 60 people between 7pm and 8.20 when the clouds finally swallowed the Moon completely…

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And the view really was very pretty, with mighty Clavius and the rest of the southern craters standing out really well in each telescope’s eyepiece – until the Moon was hidden from view yet again.

There were a lot of very impressed people there last night, and it was hard at times to prise them away from the eyepieces! There were lots of “Wow!” and “That’s cool!” comments as people bent down – or peered up – to look into the eyepieces, and everyone was genuinely grateful for the efforts of the optimistic EAS members who came down to the Park…

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I can’t help wondering how many more people we would have had if the sky had been clear – several hundred, I reckon, easily – but I guess we’ll never know.

Hopefully the sky will be clear at our next MoonWatch at the Brewery Arts Centre next month – I am sure many more people will come down to take part in that if it is 🙂

So, thanks to everyone who came down to take part in our official Autumn 2009 MoonWatch – especially to Glyn Jones, who took the above photos of the event for me, after my stupid ***** **** **** camera batteries died on me…!!

 

Oppy: Mars’ most succesful meteorite hunter!

I hope you’ll have a wander over to my “Road To Endeavour” blog to see a pic I’ve made, showing some of Opportunity’s growing meteorite collection…

http://roadtoendeavour.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/oppys-magnificent-martian-meteorites

Farewell to Mackinac…

Oppy has now driven away from the “Mackinac” meteorite. Full report on her departure here: http://roadtoendeavour.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/farewell-mackinac

EAS “JupiterWatch” Success / MoonWatch next!

Friday night’s “Jupiter Watch” down at Abbot Hall Park was a great success, and I think we showed around 40 people the planet Jupiter and its 4 largest moons through our telescopes between 19.00 and 21.15 when thickening mist and increasing damp sent us packing. There were some very interested people – many of whom had some very strange ideas about what stars are and what is going on “up there” but that’s what we’re here for, to educate and inform – and we even had a visit from a friendly and fascinated chav-hunting police officer (who got a gold star in my book for turning his bright, dark-adaption ruining torch off when I asked him!).

We had four different telescopes down on the field, all providing pleasingly different views of Jupiter. Once my trusty 4.5″ scope’s tube had cooled down I was rewarded with very pleasing views of Jupiter and the 4 “Galileans” and two dark cloud bands cutting across Jupiter’s disc, too.

Rather than me write-up the full thing here, I’ll ask you to take a look at Philip Stobbart’s report (with pics) over on his blog.

Coming next: our official IYA 2009 Autumn “MoonWatch”..!

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I think we’re going to get a pretty big turn-out for this event, not just because we have fantastic support from the local media, but because this event is featured on the official IYA 2009 website, so it will attract visitors from outside our usual area.

And the view of the Moon will be GORGEOUS…

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… with Copernicus bang on the terminator (which will make it look exceptionally stunning) and many of the most attractive large craters also on view. Plato, for example, will look just beautiful

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So, fingers crossed for a clear night on Tuesday October 27th! 🙂

Oppy’s new meteorite friend…

… in colour, finally..!

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More on this new meteorite – and the others Oppy has found – here:

http://roadtoendeavour.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/mackinac-in-colour-finally