The Science Channel aired “First on the Moon- The Untold Story” this afternoon, and it’s full of holes – according to the Bad Ass astronomer, Phil Plait, and his NASA nerd friend, David Morrison. I really wanted to believe that Apollo 11 astronauts saw a UFO, but according to David at NASA:
I just talked to Buzz Aldrin on the phone, and he notes that the quotations were taken out of context and did not convey the intended meaning. After the Apollo 11 crew verified that the object they were seeing was not the SIVB upper stage, which was about 6000 miles away at that time, they concluded that they were probably seeing one of the panels from the separation of the spacecraft from the upper stage. These panels were not tracked from Earth and were likely much closer to the Apollo spacecraft.
Dr. Phil… er, the good Bad Astronomy guy says there’s more unexplainable to explain:
As another quick example, they also talked about flashes of light that the astronauts saw in their eyes – these turned out to be subatomic particles (really, atomic nuclei) from space interacting with the fluid in their eyes. This is fairly well understood now. The show implies – it even comes right out and says – we don’t understand this phenomenon, which isn’t true.
TV shows need to be more like blogs, ya know? In the sense that real scientists could have swept in and commented on where that program went wrong. Instead, we’ll have people out there believing that many of the “facts” presented in the show were researched and documented appropriately. Where is there a (single) Web site on which viewers could easily fact-check programming like this?!