The dirty secret of the Apollo UFO

UFO Photography Tip ‘o the Day: If your UFO is in focus but your landscape is not then you have a dirty darkroom.

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A spooky image has been discovered of a mysterious UFO hovering above the Moon as Apollo astronauts snapped pictures of the surface.

The picture, part of the NASA public images archive, doesn’t appear unusual to the naked eye. But one intrepid YouTuber, StreetCap1, took the time to enlarge the photograph. It reveals a massive unidentified flying object, obviously not the Apollo Lunar Orbiter, hovering in black space just above the distant horizon.


The casual observer will note the landscape is slightly out of focus but the “UFO” is in focus. When a camera lens is set to infinite focus all objects beyond a certain distance will appear in focus. This distance, called the hyperfocal distance, is dependent on several factors (focal length, f/stop, circle of confusion) but for your typical Apollo camera/lens combo used on the Command Module it is about 80 meters. Either that UFO is closer than 80 meters and therefore is very, very, very tiny or some dirt got on the projector lens or on the print when the print was made.

Here is the video that shows this better:

  2 comments for “The dirty secret of the Apollo UFO

  1. April 2, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    The sharp focus of the object and the soft focus of the background suggest that it’s probably a flake off the Apollo spacecraft; either paint or Mylar, which would flake off due to thermal expansion/contraction or because it is affected by the jets of the maneuvering thrusters and it stays with the spacecraft until the craft changes trajectory by using its thrust system.

    There are several Apollo photographs showing similar (and even much bigger/closer) objects (e.g., AS10-28-3988, 3989, 3900). The same thing occurs on all space flights.

    Paolo Attivissimo
    Science journalist, Apollo Lunar Surface Journal contributor

  2. Chew
    April 20, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    I missed this comment so I apologize for the late reply. Thank you for the information.

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