The Moon legends

On one side, the Moon is constantly facing us. Only in 1959, with the assistance of photo-television cameras from the interplanetary device “Luna-3,” was it able to glimpse the other side. There is apparently a mysterious, fictitious third side of the Moon. Although it is difficult to perceive with the eyes, it is debated much more often and passionately than the two examples given.

After Galileo Galilei saw mountain ranges, canyons, and other features typical of Earth’s geology on the Moon via his telescope in 1610, European scientists generally agreed that our natural satellite is a smaller duplicate of the Earth. For more than two centuries, astronomers believed this, until the development of increasingly powerful telescopes showed scientists that, although the Moon resembles Earth, it lacks a thick atmosphere, and the infamous “seas” are just regions covered with darker rocks.

However, the hope of finding “brothers in mind” on the Moon was still preserved, because no one could know what was going on in its bowels or on the invisible reverse side. One of the more original theories argued that nature on the Moon lives in cycles. When a two-week lunar day begins, the frozen air melts, evaporates, creating an atmosphere, and lunar creatures crawl out of crevices and cracks to bask in the sun. This hypothesis, for example, was played on by H.G. Wells in his famous novel The First Men on the Moon (1901).

According to another version, the reverse side of the Moon under the tidal influence of the Earth should be concave, with a large number of depressions, due to which the remnants of the atmosphere can be preserved there. And this version is also reflected in the literature – in the trilogy Jerzy uławski, consisting of the novels “On the Silver Globe” (1903), “Winner” (1910), and “Old Earth” (1911).

Among the Selenites (illustrations for the novel by H.G. Wells “The First Men on the Moon”)
Among the Selenites (illustrations for the novel by H.G. Wells “The First Men on the Moon”). ©

The longer people watched the Moon, the clearer it became that life was not there. Although it was still written in the 1920s that there might be vegetation in the hot vents of volcanoes, this was already perceived as fantasy: according to the scientific community, nothing more complex than single-celled microorganisms could arise on the Moon. The Soviet interplanetary apparatus “Luna-3”, which photographed the reverse side of the Moon on October 7, 1959, put a fat point on this issue. Earthlings saw in the photo the same dead surface, covered with dust.

However, gloom did not last long among the dreamers. The theory of the hollow Moon soon became very popular. Since the 19th century, it was believed that the Moon was formed from protoplanetary matter together with the Earth or broke away from it later. Thus, the density of the night star should be close to the density of our planet. However, the apparent size of the Moon and its estimated mass indicated that the satellite’s density was much lower – about 60% of the Earth’s. In 1962, Dr. Gordon MacDonald of NASA stated that there is only one explanation for the abnormally low density: the Moon is hollow! He was supported by Dr. Harold Urey, Nobel laureate in chemistry.

Science fiction writers and ufologists seized on the idea. They began to write that life was supposed to develop inside the Moon, that there was a Selenite civilization, and so on in the same spirit. The most famous work of that time, in which the theory of the hollow Moon was popularized, was the fantastic story of Nikolai Nosov, “Dunno on the Moon” (1964-1965).

But perhaps the most extravagant hypothesis was suggested by journalist Mikhail Khvastunov (Vasiliev) and engineer Alexander Shcherbakov in the article “The Moon is an Artificial Satellite!”, Published on January 10, 1968, in the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda”. They claim that the Moon is a colossal starship that came from the depths of space, which explains all the oddities. The thickness of the metal walls of the spacecraft reaches several tens of kilometers, from above, they are covered with a special heat-shielding coating, and the lunar seas boxes are protection restored after a collision with massive meteoroids. The authors of the article also calculated the age of the ship – 40 billion years, that is, much older than our Universe! Say, the builders of the Moon could also be the creators of our entire world, in fact, gods! Maybe, aliens still rest in the inner cavity of the Moon? Or maybe they do not rest, but interfere in the affairs of our civilization?

The theory collapsed under the pressure of facts. First, astrophysicists showed on models that the existence of a hollow moon is impossible – gravitational forces will simply destroy a sphere of this size if it is composed of materials known to us. And the automatic seismographs installed by the astronauts of the American Apollo program confirmed that there are no significant cavities inside the Moon, but there is a small core – its insignificant mass explains the noticeable discrepancy in average density.

A hypothetical cavity inside the moon and a “dip” on the lunar surface, captured by the American interplanetary spacecraft LRO
A hypothetical cavity inside the moon and a “dip” on the lunar surface, captured by the American interplanetary spacecraft LRO

It would seem that everything is clear. But here, lovers of conspiracy fantasies proposed another theory: who can confirm that the Americans were on the Moon at all?

Lunar conspiracy

The first claims that the flights of American astronauts to the Moon were staged were made back in the days when NASA sent one expedition after another there. But then, they did not arouse interest.

In total, in the period from 1968 to 1972, nine expeditions took place – six with disembarkation to the surface and three without disembarkation. Then the American government froze, and a little later and finally closed the Apollo program: the main task was achieved, and each new space flight was very expensive for taxpayers.

Even though over the years of the Apollo program and after its completion, hundreds of thousands of different documents, scientific articles, popular books, documentaries, interviews, and memoirs of astronauts have been published, there were people who questioned this vast array of evidence. In 1976, the American writer Bill Kaysing published the book “We Never Went To The Moon”, in which he argued that all the flights of the Apollo astronauts were falsified, and those of the scientists and astronauts who spoke out against the global deception were eliminated. The reasons for this act are unclear, but there is a version that Kaysing just wanted to improve his financial situation. However, we will not violate the presumption of innocence, and we will assume that the writer was sincere in his suspicions.

The main claims of Bill Kaysing boiled down to the following: the technology did not allow sending a man to the Moon; there are no stars in the photographs taken there; the photographic film used by astronauts had to melt when exposed to sunlight; there are many optical anomalies in the photos themselves; a waving flag is visible on the film, which cannot be in a vacuum; after landing, a crater should have formed, which is not observed.

Other conspiracy theorists began to join the theory of the lunar conspiracy, among whom there were enough technical specialists, so it began to acquire an aura of credibility. Today it looks something like this: the American government initially knew that it would not be able to cope with the daunting task of sending pilots to the Moon until the end of the decade, as President John F. Kennedy bequeathed, therefore, in parallel with the usual preparations, it launched a project to create a fake, in which special services took part, agencies, corporations, astronauts, flight directors and a whole army of engineers. The main role went to the great director Stanley Kubrick, who shot historical footage of the moon landing in Hollywood pavilions.

The theory of the lunar conspiracy to this day remains on hearing because time passes, and the direct participants in the events are becoming less and less, and those who want to “expose” more and more. At some point, NASA simply ceased to enter into a discussion with conspiracy theorists, publish refutations, etc. than enough. For example, anyone who knows even the slightest bit of the history of astronautics will easily answer why the film in astronauts’ cameras did not melt. Exactly for the same reason why the film did not melt in the Soviet interplanetary spacecraft Luna-3: a special thermal protection was provided for it.

Lunar microbes

Long before Apollo launched to the Moon, the scientific community was firmly convinced that lunar conditions were unsuitable for the emergence and development of even the simplest forms of life. Nevertheless, NASA experts insisted on the use of special measures that would prevent the possible penetration of lunar microorganisms to Earth.

For this, a Lunar Receiving Laboratory was built on the territory of the Manned Space Flight Center in Houston. It contains three zones: the crew zone, designed for isolated living for three weeks; a zone for lunar soil samples with vacuum chambers, where the samples were stored and analyzed; an administrative area with laboratories, offices, and conference rooms. The first two zones were separated from the outside world by a “biological barrier”.

Immediately after landing in the Pacific Ocean, astronauts were transferred from the ship’s command module to an inflatable boat put on biological protection suits, and then transferred to an airtight van in which they were taken to Houston. Despite these tricks, in the entire history of the Apollo program, not a single lunar microbe has been caught.

Germans on the Moon

During World War II, the engineers of the Third Reich managed to generate several projects that at that time were considered fiction: heavy ballistic missiles, self-guided cruise bombs, rocket fighters, electronic computers, a uranium reactor for submarines, flying disc-shaped vehicles. Specialists of the anti-Hitler coalition troops, who worked with captured documents and prototypes after the war, were shocked by the scale of these projects.

It seemed that the “gloomy German genius” had indeed made a breakthrough into the future. Therefore, almost immediately after the war, rumors spread: if the Nazis had such a unique technique, then, perhaps, some of the leaders of the Third Reich managed to escape from burning Berlin on rockets or disc-shaped vehicles, hid in a secret place, and are now preparing a monstrous armada to inflict “retaliation”.

The first to use this idea in a literary text was the American science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who published in 1947 the novel “Galileo Rocket Ship”. The plot of the novel accidentally spawned another conspiracy theory: the Nazis used their advanced technologies to get to the Moon, earthly governments know about this, but they carefully hide everything so as not to provoke another world war. Subsequently, the theory became popular, played up in comics, science fiction novels, and ufological books. But the most original and absurd reading of this idea was shown by the Finnish director Timo Vuorensola in the film Iron Sky (2012).

Could something like this actually happen? Of course not. Despite certain successes, Hitler’s engineers were unable to go beyond the known technologies: neither ballistic missiles, nor disc-shaped aircraft, nor rocket aircraft developed speeds sufficient to enter the Earth’s orbit, let alone the Moon.

Russian Moon

In the 1990s, documents related to the Soviet lunar program were finally declassified. The names of the projects became known, technical descriptions of launch vehicles and spacecraft appeared, memoirs of the developers of lunar technology began to be published. Of course, all this abundance of information did not go unnoticed by conspiracy theorists. A version that appeared that far from the whole truth about the space projects of the USSR was revealed, that in reality Soviet cosmonauts twice tried to land on the Moon and failed twice.

According to the version of this myth, the first attempt was made by none other than Yuri Gagarin, who went to the Moon on the ship 7K-L1 (“Zond-4”). On March 2, 1968, he took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome, circled the Moon, but something went wrong, and the ship exploded. The Soviet authorities classified the death of the first cosmonaut, and twenty days later, on March 22, they faked his death in a banal plane crash.

In this story, lies are mixed with truth – Yuri Gagarin really participated in the launch of Zond-4 but as a member of the flight control group. Immediately after the launch, he went with a group of officers to Evpatoria, where the Center for Long-Range Space Communications was located, to monitor the work of an unmanned spacecraft, whose task was to fly around the Moon and return to Earth at a second space speed.

The ship really lost control and was destroyed upon entering the atmosphere. Yuri Gagarin remained in Yevpatoria for some time, and on March 9 he celebrated his birthday there with his friends-cosmonauts and residents of the city.

The Soviet cosmonauts allegedly made a second attempt to reach the Moon in November 1968, trying to outrun the launch of the American Apollo-8 expedition on the 7K-L1 (“Zond-6”) spacecraft. The ship successfully flew around a natural satellite, but on its return, the descent vehicle crashed. Therefore, the authorities allegedly hid the fact of the presence of the astronauts on board and the fact of their terrible death. Such a launch took place in reality and went exactly as the conspiracy theorists describe. Only there were no cosmonauts on board – the Zond spacecraft had not yet been adapted for human flight.

The main problem of the conspiracy theory is that the described cases have nothing to do with the hypothetical landing of astronauts on the Moon. It needs a completely different ship, as well as a huge rocket “N-1”, which, despite four launches, was never able to put a payload into orbit. If there is no corresponding rocket, there is no flight to the Moon. Which, however, does not prevent fantasizing on this topic, as did the creators of the film “Apollo 18” (2011), which shows with great “reliability” both the mythical “military” expedition of American astronauts and the remains of the Soviet cosmonaut, who after all reached the Moon, after which he died in a battle with local aggressive life forms.

And the creators of the pseudo-documentary film “First on the Moon” (2005) showed a fantastic story that in 1938 the Soviet Union created all the conditions for launching a spacecraft to the Moon. The film was shot in the spirit of an investigation report: the viewer is shown documents, newsreels, secret recordings, eyewitness accounts. On the whole, one gets the impression of a colossal scientific and technical breakthrough that provided a dramatic flight and a successful landing of a Soviet officer on the Moon. It’s a pity that this is just a fantasy…

Anomalies and aliens on the Moon

If you think that the supporters of the hollow Moon have abandoned the development of their theory, then you are wrong. On the contrary, it received new “facts” in its confirmation. Conspiracy theorists asked the question: why, in fact, the United States so suddenly interrupted flights to the Moon, and the USSR not only did not try to “catch up and overtake”, but also classified its lunar projects for decades? And they instantly came up with the answer: because the Moon is already occupied – by a civilization that is much more powerful than the earthly one.

The prerequisites for the emergence of such a theory appeared long ago. From the time of Galileo, Astronomers noticed strange flares on the lunar surface but mistook them for volcanic eruptions. When observations became fairly regular, there was a need to register “short-term lunar phenomena” (or LTP – from Lunar Transient Phenomena). Since 1957, they have been entered into a special catalog, dividing them into several types: changing the appearance and clarity of the image of relief details; change in brightness and sudden flashes; changing the color of the lunar object; the appearance or disappearance of dark spots; lengthening of the lunar horns; anomalous phenomena during the covering of stars by the Moon; non-stationary phenomena during lunar eclipses; moving objects.

Here are just a few of the registered LTPs. In May 1964, American astronomers observed a white spot over the Sea of Tranquility for an hour, moving at a speed of about 32 km/h. It is curious that it gradually decreased in size. Somewhat later, in June, the same observers recorded a spot moving at a speed of about 80 km/h.

On a moonlit night in 1966, an English astronomer, examining the bottom of a lunar crater, noticed strange stripes that turned from black to green-brown, then diverged in radii, changed shape, grew, and reached their maximum size by lunar noon. By the moonlit evening, they shrank, faded, and finally disappeared altogether.

In September 1967, Canadian astronomers recorded a dark body in the Sea of Tranquility with a purple tint around the edges, moving from west to east for ten seconds. The body disappeared near the terminator (the line dividing the illuminated and shadow sides of the celestial body), and thirteen minutes later, a yellow light flashed for a fraction of a second near the crater located in the area where the spot was moving. And so on and so forth…

It is not difficult for some LTPs to find a natural explanation: the release of gases from the crack, the consequences of tectonic activity, the fall of a meteoroid. However, the vast majority remain a mystery. However, the conspiracy theorists already have detailed versions of what happened.

In 2007, scientific consultants Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara published the voluminous book “Dark Mission”. “The Secret History of NASA”, which collected a huge number of “facts” (including LTP), which allegedly testify to the presence of a powerful space civilization on the Moon. They said that NASA itself invented the lunar conspiracy theory to “avert their eyes” from more important and sensational information.

According to the authors of the book, even during the Apollo flights, the American government came into contact with the Selenites and is now receiving ready-made technologies from them to achieve total superiority over other powers. Therefore, NASA in every possible way prevents the collection of true information about the solar system, so that falsifiers distort our knowledge.

And here we have to admit: it is impossible to refute the theory of Richard Hoagland and Mike Bar, because it is based not on vague suspicions, like all the previous ones, but on the belief in the truth of a deliberately fantastic assumption. And faith, as you know, is not refuted by scientific arguments.

The “big moon effect” is well known. It manifests itself in the fact that when the Moon is low above the horizon, it looks much larger in size than in the position near the zenith. In fact, the apparent size of the Moon does not change – this is an illusion that our brain generates.

Conspiracy theories can be considered the same illusion. Upon close examination, they turn out to be a figment of the imagination, operating with imaginary phenomena and incredible events. All of them, without exception, are a kind of fantasy. No more, but no less.

Sources: Homsk, VK, Spanning

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