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Absence of stars in photos

  1. Okay look guys I am not posting this because I am a conspiracy theorist, in actuality I am trying to disprove someones insistence on a conspiracy theory regarding the lack of stars in photographs and video taken from space... I know there has to be some logical reason for this phenomenon, and it certainly cant be because the entire space program is a conspiracy...

    Basically we have some guy (using that term loosley) claiming the ISS and Moon Landing and Astronauts going into space is impossible because.

    A) There are no stars in videos/photos taken with said objects in space

    B) Claims that due to the temperatures in our upper atmosphere that no Astronaut would survive the trip into space (which of course is the most ridiculous claim, as technology/ingenuty is why they don't burn up)

    The guy clearly does not know what hes talking about, but he keeps bringing up the lack of stars in said video/photo footage and frankly I don't know the reason for this as it is something i can honestly say i haven't seen in any space footage as of yet... My educated guess is possibly due to space absorbing light or a result of exposure within the camera/video settings

    Id really love to provide this individual with a sound educated response, anything to disprove his "conspiracies"...
  2. jcsd
  3. Simply tell him to go outside, take a photo of the night sky and see if there are any stars visible in the photo. My bet is there won't be!
  4. ha matt.o.. thanks... that one is such a simple answer that I think even his simple mind can grasp the concept..

    I dunno why I didnt actually think of that earlier on, as i have tried on a few occasions to capture night sky photos... The best i can pull off is only a bright planet like Venus, which resembles a star and even then unless its a really nice camera its hard to capture on film/video.

    Like I was just telling him maybe it has something to do with how many light years the stars are from us.. Again I dunno for sure, and I certainly hope someone gives a detailed explanation, cause I love knocking down ignorance with an educated response :-)
  5. Chronos

    Chronos 9,952
    Science Advisor
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    This conjecture appears to originate from a Mr. Overstreet, whose fifteen minutes of fame included this revelation:

    "I am just a senior in high school, and about the only thing that I know professionally is how to run movie projectors. . . ."

    For additional discourse, see

  6. Thank you Chronos... That is just the kind of information i was looking for.. I kinda figured it had something to do with "exposure".. Which I can only assume holds true for all of the current space footage we have...

    Just curious though im wondering if anyone has space shots with stars in them, this guy "challenged" me to find one saying that there aren't any... I would think there are some, but i personally don't have the time or patience to look through alot of space footage when i already know most of the footage is starless and i mean of all the space footage past to present day..

    Anyway thanks again, and keep all good information coming.. We'll make this guys head spin till he stops arguing with nonsense :)

    NOTE: Just so you all understand how this originated, it all started over the movie The Astronaut Farmer, which i found to be a very good movie even though much of it was improbable/impractical but not totally impossible. And i say that as an amateur rocketeer into high power rocketry, so there is some actual possibility an "average" (very wealthy) citizen could launch themselves into space (orbit).. Anyway im pretty sure you all can see where the whole argument that the moon landing, ISS, and space travel in general was impossible according this guy.. Heck I even brought up SpaceshipOne and the X-prize and was told thats a "conspiracy" too.. LOL.. This guy im debating with is a character, to say the least
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007
  7. Janus

    Janus 2,375
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    Good luck with this guy, but don't hold out too much hope of convincing him. The trouble with people like this is that they are immune to reason.

    His argument about no stars in space shots is a prime example. Not only doesn't he understand that there shouldn't be stars in the shots, but he doesn't even consider the fact that if there should have been stars in the photos, those who where supposed to be faking them would have simplyput stars into the photos.

    As far as his second argument goes, this is due to a common misconception on the difference between temperature and heat content. The air at high altitude has high temp, but because it is so thin it contains little heat.
  8. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Try this: take a flash picture of an object outside at night and see if you get any stars. See, that's the issue - when you take a picture of a brightly lit object (like the Earth, from the space shuttle), the exposure length is so short (on the order of 1/1000th to 1/100th second), you can't get any stars in it. If you point any camera at the blank sky, it will adjust the exposure to 1/2 second (a common maximum) and will get a few bright stars.

    Honestly, though, conspiracy theorists don't put even an ounce of thought into their ideas: You shouldn't either. It is a waste of time.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007
  9. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Good point - conspiracy theorists are often two steps removed from reality. It almost takes effort to be wrong twice at the same time!
  10. turbo

    turbo 7,366
    Gold Member

    Anyone who has ever dabbled in photography (at least before the cameras were so automatic that they did most everything for you), has heard of the "sunny 16 rule". That rule tells you that on a sunny day, you can shoot a well-illuminated object at an aperture of f:16 using a shutter speed that is a reciprocal of the film speed. So using ASA 100 film, the astronauts could stop the lens down to f:16 and shoot at 1/100 sec exposure. On the moon, those lenses were likely stopped down even further, since there is no atmospheric attenuation of sunlight. If you are taking pictures of another astronaut gathering soil samples or planting a flag, etc, there is NO way you could capture images of stars in the background. Go outside any night and take some pictures of the night sky with your camera's lens set at f:16 and with an exposure of 1/100 second and see if you can capture any stars.
  11. turbo

    turbo 7,366
    Gold Member

    Phil knows what he is talking about. I was simply trying to put things in the simplest terms that any shutterbug could understand. Just the bare nuts and bolts, that MIGHT (somehow) convince the conspiracy nuts that there is a really understandable, provable, reason why stars don't gleam through the blackness in brightly-lit Apollo photos. If they understand the basics of photography and film/sensor sensitivity, they can try to photograph stars with exposure times and apertures appropriate to bright day-time photography to see if they can capture any stars. They will not be able to do so. Argument over.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007
  12. thanks guys... I think i have enough to bust this guys chops.. as a matter of fact he hasn't even bothered to reply to my 3 posts of answers to his 1 post of NO STARS theory...

    :-) I love it when that happens

    Who knows maybe hes actually convinced now hes wrong.. lol.. but i doubt it

    Like i told him in my final post..
    "Im giving you a free education, make something useful of it."

    Also guys don't think I came on here solely to win a debate, well it sort of stared out that way but since im into high power rocketry im sure Ill be back in the Physics thread asking questions at some point in the future, this forum received a prestigious "My Bookmarks" reward, ;-)
  13. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,952
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    But then he might be in on the conspiracy :rolleyes:

    The best evidence for faked moon landings comes from the Northern line on London underground - how is it that they can put men on the moon but can't make escalators work? The only logical explanation is that the moon landings were faked!
  14. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,952
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

  15. I've had this discussion with a few different people. All of them are incredibly hard to convince. I have been a photographer for many years and I know how cameras work with light. It's usually ignorance of the devices used to obtain such an image. It seems silly that everyone assumes they know how a camera works because they've used one before.
    One of them did come around when I showed him a picture of The Hubble Deep Field. It took 10 days for them to obtain this image of the heavens and it came from a few hundred photographs. Just explaining the length of time it took to get this image made him grasp the concept.
  16. Even if you dispel his myths about one subject another million will appear through the cracks in his logical ability. This personality type are dreamers and rather obsessive in my experience, what if is much better than what is.

    Don't hold your hopes up, it's the same with Creationists, who of course have God on their side not little green men or Morlocks or lizard men or evil Zionist Illuminati, same difference:what I like to broadly describe as "fairies at the bottom of the garden", none of them exist, or at least they have never seen them :smile:. Impervious to science and reason :biggrin:

    This place is pretty awesome.

    Thanks I see what you mean about UK. I think I just LMAO, Clangers! Ah I used to watch them, takes me back.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2007
  17. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 29,893
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    This issue is practically settled, I'm sure. But just in case more of these conspiracy theory pops up, I would also suggest going to another site that I've mentioned earlier that debunked many of these conspiracy theories to pieces in meticulous detail. Go to


    The issue regarding the lack of stars in the photography has been smashed to pieces already in there. However, as with the issue of "Evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics", these people either are totally in bliss with their ignorance, or simply refuses to learn. It means that the same issue will keep coming up, in one form or another. So it is always handy to have a site that addresses practically all of these silly "theories".

  18. Moon hoax? Please help me debunk this!


    I know this sounds silly, but I read through this page & it kind of puzzled me. In the photos the background hills are identical, although supposedly shot from different locations, kilometers apart.

    Also, there is a point made about the moon buggy's final resting place, 5km from the Lunar Module. Did they really walk back that distance?

    Is this page just all-made-up? Are these photos really what this guy say they are, all Apollo 17 pics?

    Then I get bombed with all these bizarre photos supposedly from "Langley, Virginia" -


    Of course I think it's all rubbish, but maybe some of you can just ease my mind a little, because on the face of it, I find this almost...well...not quite, but almost "convincing"!? There's stuff here I want to be able to refute with the utmost self-assurance!

  19. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 29,893
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    You should at least have looked at the existing threads in this page of the sub-forum, because you would have found your answer.

    I am merging your thread into an existing one (I hope you don't mind, Ivan), because if you read the post that I just made right before you made your post, you would have found a website that has ALL of the answers to your question, and even a few that you never anticipated. Please read it.

  20. The clavius.org site is very good, but it doesn't specifically address any of the points raised by this hoax-page which I had posted the link to -


    The page needs to be read in its entirety (you may skip the opening preamble). I simply want somebody to help me refute the claims made in this particular webpage - for instance, the identical backdrops in all the photos (from different locations, kilometers apart)?

    Also, it is claimed that the moon buggy was abandoned at Station 8, 5km from the LM. Is this true? Because here you can see the abandoned moon buggy right near the LM!?

    These were the main issues I gleaned from this hoax-page, and which I'd appreciate some help clearing up in my head.
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