What happens to Star-light in Space?

       In an article entitled "What happens to Star-light in Space", published in Reality and Meaning number 46, Leo VanderByl Sr. points out that, that according to a photograph taken on the surface of the moon released by NASA, stars are visible only in a part of the sky: that which is occupied by a part of the sun's corona, just visible over the horizon.

In the same article, it is pointed out, that one of the astronauts, once arrived on the moon, remarked that "we can see stars again". This is a contradiction, in that the photograph does not show such stars, except in an extremely small part of the visible sky, which is already "occupied" by the light of the sun's corona, and which would not have been visible to the astronaut, or at least would not have led to the remark as cited.

Another evident contradiction pointed out by VanderByl is the official calculation of the "neutral point" of gravity between the earth and the moon, given as 23,900 miles from the moon's center, as compared with the empirically established distance of the neutral point located at 43,495 miles, a distance almost twice that predicted by calculations. VanderByl points out, that if the distance of 43,495 should be confirmed, the moon's gravity would have to be approximately double that predicted, or close to one third of that of the earth.

On the basis of these and other incongruent pieces of evidence, such as the motion of astronauts on video recordings, incompatible with the expected one sixth of earth gravity the moon is said to possess, as well as a visible "fluttering in the wind" of the American flag planted on the moon's surface for the occasion of the landing, it has been suggested by some that the moon landing never happened. I would not go so far as to accuse NASA of "staging" the moon landing in some location on Earth, as some have done, but would like to propose an alternative third explanation, in addition to the two already proposed by Leo VanderByl.

It seems quite well established that in deep space, stars are not visible, and that their light becomes evident to our eyes only when we are on the earth. This is normally ascribed to a "lens effect" of our atmosphere. The remark of the astronaut, to the effect that the stars had once more become visible after arrival on the moon, seems to contradict the explanation of the atmosphere being responsible for seeing starlight, as the moon is said to have no appreciable atmosphere.

VanderByl's subsequent attempts to explain the incongruences in the available data by saying that starlight must thus be made visible by something different from an atmosphere, such as the solar wind or gravity, do not find my complete agreement. They are a valient effort in searching for an explanation, but they assume, wrongly in my view, the NASA photograph to be something akin to "a fact". I therefore would like to propose a third possibility.

Starting out from the assumption that the neutral point between the earth and the moon is in fact at about 43,495 miles, we see that as a natural consequence, the moon's gravity assumes a higher value than previously thought. Having a gravity of one third that of earth, the moon is likely also to have an atmosphere, although that atmosphere would not be as dense as ours here on earth. Having an atmosphere and a higher gravity, some of the contradicting or unexplained facts as stated above start to fall into place. The flag could move in a slight breeze, the astronauts could have difficulties to jump as high as they should in a one sixth earth gravity environment, and stars could indeed be visible through that very atmosphere.

Remains the published NASA picture as a contrary and unexplained "fact". No stars are visible, except those "hidden" in the sun's corona.

It is well established that NASA does not publish pictures from space until after the images have been carefully examined and approved for publication. Could such pictures, in addition to being examined, also be electronically "improved upon", that is, could they be "edited" in some way? Assuming this to be a real possibility, well within the technical means at our disposal with computers and image processing software, and certainly well within the technical possibilities of NASA even in the sixties, we can suddenly see the last contrary fact find an explanation. The picture in question showed stars to begin with, but they were removed from the image, electronically touched up in order to hide - what?

The fact that the moon does maybe possess an atmosphere, even if more tenuous than the earth's?

The fact that our calculations of the force of gravity are based on a theory full of holes?

And for what purpose? Are there other facts about the solar system and in particular about the earth and the moon that "must not be because they cannot be" and therefore have to be hidden from view?

I admit that I do not know for certain what exactly could have brought NASA to operate a cover-up of this sort, but there are enough contrary facts to warrant serious investigation. Others may have been more lucky than me in uncovering what it is that needs to be hidden so desperately that an agency of government would risk becoming ridiculous to even a casual observer. NASA itself might wish to "come clean" and give a real explanation for the contrary facts. Questions do remain open and I believe they should be answered.

Josef Hasslberger
Rome, Italy
March 2001

Added here, a comment of Leo VanderByl in a recent e-mail and my reply to clarify

Leo VanderByl:

In the meantime I have seen some pictures (taken from the moon) on the internet, complete with stars.
I read your article in R&M and have real trouble believing that there would be any atmosphere on the moon.
I build telescopes, pretty good ones I might add, and have enjoyed views of the moon with my 10 inch schmidt cassegrain on some of the best viewing nights, where viewing was 9 out of ten.
I paid particular attention to the limb, because that shows the interference of our atmosphere clearest and I can assure you that there is nothing extra, as there would be if there was enough to move the flag.
Another item not to forget is, that the astronouts were in atmosphere in their capsule and they were the ones who did not see stars while en route.
Atmosphere is also in their suits, so these facts made me write the article.

My comment:

well so there is one picture without stars, and then there is another picture with stars, both taken from the moon. I take your word for that as I have not seen the actual pictures. Sort of makes one think that one or both of them would be a fake, touched up in some way or another. However that may be, Nasa should be made to clarify.

As for the presence or absence of an atmosphere on the moon, your direct observation says there probably is none. That may well be true.

I don't think that making the stars visible is necessarily related to the atmosphere as such, as the air being present in a space capsule or in a space suit, but rather to the atmosphere (or some other phenomenon such as you suggest) spanning a whole heavenly body and by that creating what one might call a "lens effect" without which the stars cannot be seen. It is imaginable that even a very tenuous atmosphere could be sufficient to create such an effect. However that may be, there certainly is room for discovery here.

Kind regards