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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Apollo in Lunar Orbit seen from Earth

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Author Topic:   Apollo in Lunar Orbit seen from Earth
Ian Limbrey
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Posts: 3
From: England
Registered: Nov 2012

posted 11-06-2012 03:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ian Limbrey   Click Here to Email Ian Limbrey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The night before Apollo 15 landed, I trained my telescope on Mare Crisium hoping to see the sunlight reflecting of Endeavour and Falcon as they came round from the dark side of the moon. After about 20 minutes of waiting I saw a very sharp flash of reflected sunlight just above the lunar horizon near Mare Crisium which could only be Apollo 15 (or a UFO!).

I have spoken to several Apollo astronauts about this sighting including Al Worden who was unaware of this ever being seen before. Surely other people (with telescopes) have seen this sight on other missions?? I would be interested to know.

Headshot
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Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 11-06-2012 06:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What you observed might have been a specular reflection of sunlight from one of the spacecraft's windows. Such phenomena were observed and even photographed during Apollo 8's and 10's trips to the moon. Accounts of this are given in NASA SP 201 and 232.

I do not recall any such flashes being observed from a manned spacecraft in orbit around the moon and reported to Sky and Telescope, an amateur astronomy magazine that ran articles about observing Apollo spacecraft in transit to the moon, during the late '60s and early '70s.

The Lunar Orbiter V spacecraft was photographed while in orbit around the moon. But a 60" telescope was used and the spacecraft was specially positioned so as to present the maximum difuse reflection of sunlight from its solar panels back to Earth. The LO spacecraft did not have windows that could provide the much brighter specular reflections.

micropooz
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Posts: 1239
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 11-06-2012 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a kid, I remember one of the TV networks at the time (ABC, NBC, or CBS) lining up a camera with an observatory telescope to see the flash from one of the Apollo flights in orbit around the Moon. I can't remember the flight, network, or observatory. But it didn't work, for what it's worth...

robsouth
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Posts: 607
From: West Midlands, UK
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 11-13-2012 10:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone have a copy of the photo of the Lunar Orbiter V spacecraft in lunar orbit?

Headshot
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Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 11-13-2012 12:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The photo (which just shows Lunar Orbiter V as a streak near an overexposed portion of the lunar limb), was taken by some of the staff working at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona.

I first saw it in a Sky and Telescope magazine article that appeared sometime in late '67 or early '68, but before the July '68 issue.

A portion of it also appeared on page 48 of The Moon In The Post-Apollo Era by Zdenek Kopal (1974, D. Reidel Publishing Company).

robsouth
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Posts: 607
From: West Midlands, UK
Registered: Jun 2005

posted 11-13-2012 12:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robsouth     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Telescopic Tracking of Lunar Orbiter V Around the Moon

Headshot
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Posts: 182
From: Streamwood, IL USA
Registered: Feb 2012

posted 11-14-2012 07:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The image on the site is a cropped view of what is shown in Kopal's book.

There was at least one image in the Sky and Telescope article that showed much more of the original picture, which also included the moon's limb. If my memory is correct, the reproduction in S&T was noticeably better than what is in Kopal's book and the Lunar Orbiter Tracking website.

All times are CT (US)

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