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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Feb > Feb 26

Re: Apollo 16 Film - Oberg

From: James Oberg <joberg.nul>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 12:07:09 -0600
Fwd Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2004 14:09:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Apollo 16 Film - Oberg

>From: Lan Fleming <lfleming5.nul>
>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 14:05:43 -0600
>Subject: Apollo 16 Film

>Is the Apollo-16 "Anomalous Image" Really An Alien Spaceship?

>Jim Oberg

I have had the opportunity, thanks to the kindness of
associates, to review the paper by Hiroshi Nakamura, "Video
Analysis of an anomalous image filmed during Apollo-16" (Journal
of Scientific Exploration, Volume 17, Issue 3,  Fall 2003, pp.
409-432).  I'd like to present my preliminary impressions, while
reserving a more detailed assessment for the future.

The author was quite clear in his view: "We believe that the
object is a large extraterrestrial artifact..... This is the
only hypothesis that is consistent with the data." (p. 431). The
artwork in Figure 12 [p. 424] showed an interpretation of the
images that is a classic 'domed flying saucer' right out of the

He concluded: "The measurements and analysis contained in this
paper established that the object captured in this video file is
not Earth, a minor planet, the command module, space debris, or
a photo aberration." He added: "The visual signal of the object
which we showed by this paper is obviously more artificial than
the well-known 'Big WOW' signal. We insist that such an
important signal not be overlooked by the researcher's

It's unclear how much =96 if any =96 editing or peer reviewing was
performed by the editors at JSR, although the author thanked
Bruce Maccabee for suggesting revisions. A number of fundamental
astronomical errors =96 such as referring to the "far dark side"
of the moon, or believing the plural of 'mare' (lunar sea) is
'mares' instead of the correct 'maria' =96 suggest little or
nothing was done.

No competent editor should have allowed such a blatant reliance
on secondary sources of unverified reliability. Instead of
watching the actual 16-mm film, the author merely relied on an
Internet MPEG which had been potentially altered in unknown
ways. Instead of talking to ANY witness =96 the flight crew, the
ground controllers, the photointerpreters (such as the retired
chief of Apollo crew photography, Richard Underwood) =96 the
author merely stated that "Donald Ratsch has claimed that the
footage was taken by Mr. John W. Young", without providing any
argument for believing the hearsay statement.

The actual sequence lasted about 20 seconds on CL-862, and
although it was complete at:


it seems to have been sped up by a factor of three. The image
shows the left edge of the sunlit 'limb' of the moon, with the
image in the left portion of that scene, then the camera pans
along the limb, stops, and pans back to the end of the sunlit
limb (where it intersects with the terminator). The half-moon
shape of the image has markedly changed, as if the top half was
no longer illuminated.

The author wrote that "some skeptics claimed the object in
question was Earth", but in actuality, the identification of the
image with Earth (incorrectly, as it turned out) was made by Mr.
Don Pickard, the NASA photo technician who produced the CL-862
film in 1981 and how selected that sequence for inclusion with
other space images that were being widely misrepresented as
'UFOs' in various magazines, books, and documentaries. Pickard
has no opinion about UFOs, so calling him a 'skeptic' is
inappropriate and arguably prejudicial. The author has evidently
neither seen the original CL-862 film or been in touch with Mr.

The abstract stated, "Image analysis is performed to determine
if the object in question is Earth as claimed by Karsten Voigt,
even though James Oberg, who also thought it was Earth, has
retracted that explanation because of work by Jack Kasher." This
is false. I changed my view because, once I had heard of the
objections by Ratsch and Kasher, I performed my own analysis of
the image and identified the craters along the terminator, which
allowed me to determine the camera's line of sight relative to
Earth. I did not, then or now, accept any claims by Ratsch or
Kasher on face value, and in fact have found the vast majority
of their claims regarding astronaut 'UFO imagery' to be

Most of the Nakamura paper was devoted to identifying the lunar
features along the imaged limb, comparing them with other Apollo
lunar imagery and with lunar imagery from the Japanese Nozomi
probe, and using geometrical analysis to locate the observing
point. This appears to have been done competently, if perhaps
unnecessarily since most of what is 'proved' was not in serious
doubt to begin with. But as with the page after page of Apollo
mission event data, it gave the misleading impression of massive
supporting data for the author's conclusions, when in fact none
of the data that occupies more than two thirds of the published
paper has any relevance to the conclusions.

The author acknowledged that he was provided with all requested
images from the Lunar and Planetary Institute (in Houston). He
added, "Unfortunately, their photographs do not have a UFO image
(we cannot judge the rumor that a UFO was blotted out with an
air brush)" [p. 427]. To the best of my knowledge, there is not
and never has been a rumor that any alterations were made to
these images =96 the only source of such a rumor is the author's
own imagination, and if he admits he cannot distinguish between
his own imaginations and provable facts, it is a startling

The author's "argumentation by elimination" is flawed with
convenient, arbitrary assumptions, as shown by his treatment of
close-in 'space junk' [p. 425]. "It could not have been debris
very close to the Apollo 16 since the UFO images seems [emphasis
added] to be well focused, whereas a nearby object, whether seen
directly through a window or seen as a weak (dim) reflection in
the window, would likely [emphasis added] be out of focus since
the camera was focused on infinity (the moon is well focused).
This distance vs focus argument also rejects the question of
whether or not it could be something attached to the spacecraft
itself which was momentarily illuminated by the sun. Thus for
all of these reasons the object was not a piece of debris or a
part of the command module." However, at the f-stops and film
ASAs typically used for such photography, the depth of field of
a camera set at infinity can range from a meter or two out to
infinity =96 objects quite close to the camera would be within
this range and be in focus. And besides, the mystery image sure
looks out-of-focus to me!

His treatment of the possibility of a window reflection shows
similar "arguing the consequent" with convenient assumptions and
'might-be' assertions. "This raises the question of whether or
not the image could be a reflection in the window of some object
inside the command module. Astronauts routinely might [emphasis
added] have placed their camera lens against the window surface
to avoid reflections [the author appears unaware that the window
had several panes, and he shows no familiarity with any of the
hundreds of Apollo photos which clearly do show internal

"If the lens of the movie camera was not close to the spacecraft
window, then one probably could not reject [emphasis added] the
idea of a reflection . . . as a possible explanation. However,
the redeeming [an interesting choice of words: JO] feature of
this footage is that, as the camera swings over to the 'right
side' of the moon, it would [emphasis added] cause a large
change in the angle of incidence of the reflected image of an
interior object. Thus, if a reflection, the UFO image should
have [emphasis added] moved rapidly over the different areas of
the film scene.  Furthermore, the window's reflection of some
object inside the command module might [emphasis added]
disappear with changes of the position off the camera as it
swings around, whereas the UFO image in the footage is
relatively constant with respect to the moon over this interval.
It is thus unlikely [emphasis added] that the UFO was a
reflection of an interior light or some other interior object."

Here is where some schematic drawings would have helped make the
point about how a reflection would really =96 not 'should' or
'might' =96 behave, but the author evidently made no studies,
performed no analysis, didn't even take a cine camera to a small
window and pan it across exterior targets to see how it and the
window reflections behaved. All of the above 'reflection'
arguments are purely 'thought experiments', imaginary and
unprovable, and quite possibly preordained by the desire to
eliminate this prosaic explanation's plausibility.

My own familiarity with astronaut photography through small
windows makes the reflection hypothesis attractive. The shape of
the image matches the shape of the lens of the cine camera, or
potentially some other round illuminated object viewed
obliquely. Panning the camera does NOT involve swinging the
camera as the astronaut rotates his body (the way you might do
it outside on Earth), but involves translating the camera-
astronaut sideways while rotating around an axis passing through
the window =96 because the camera lens must remain in position to
see through that window. And that implies =96 try this at home, by
all means =96 that the reflections would NOT significantly move,
as the author mistakenly alleged. At a given range to the glass,
the camera position relative to the window cannot be changed, or
it would no longer be able to see out that window.

In the end, by declaring that a reflection is 'unlikely', the
author argues that an alien spaceship is MORE likely. This
strikes me as an unlikely scenario, inadequately argued. And by
omitting the testimony of the three men on the scene =96 they each
told me, individually, that they recall seeing nothing outside
their windows in that period except the moon =96 and the other
photography from the crew (no object in view), along with the
air-to-ground radio conversations and the post-flight debriefing
transcripts, all of which make no mention of any such
apparition, the article is at the very least fatally incomplete,
and at worst, misleading.

James Oberg

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