clear sky chart

Job 9:9

Job 9:9-10
9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Can You See the Apollo Moon Landings Through A Telescope?

This has been asked of me a number of times, so I thought I would post a story and answer the question on here.  Some time ago, I photographed portions of the moon's surface with as much resolution as I could do, and I have taken one of those images and cropped it to show the area around Apollo 11's landing site.

Here you can see the southern part of Mare Tranquillitatis.  The little white circle shows the approximate published landing site.  There is a small crater close to it, called "Moltke".  To reference the size, Moltke is 4 miles (7km) across.

The lunar landers measured 14 feet by 13.3 feet square.

In order to see the lander, a telescope 1000 times more powerful than mine might possibly show a bright pixel, MAYBE.  Couple that with atmospheric distortion that tends to blur everything, using even the most powerful earth based telescope it would be completely impossible to even come close to seeing any detail of any of the landing sites.

To take it one step farther - what about Hubble?  Can it see one of the landing sites?  Well, to quote ""...

"Can Hubble see the Apollo landing sites on the Moon?
No, Hubble cannot take photos of the Apollo landing sites.
An object on the Moon 4 meters (4.37 yards) across, viewed from HST, would be about 0.002 arcsec in size. The highest resolution instrument currently on HST is the Advanced Camera for Surveys at 0.03 arcsec. So anything we left on the Moon cannot be resolved in any HST image. It would just appear as a dot."

Remember, the moon is about 250,000 miles away, and in order to see something 14 feet square at that distance would take one large telescope in orbit.  The best we can do is photograph the terrain near the landing sites, but we cannot see the site itself.


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