Can Telescopes See The Lunar Lander?

Astronomers have been using telescopes to look at the moon since the early 19th century. They’ve even sent probes to explore its surface. 

The Moon has always fascinated us. From ancient times, humans have wondered whether it was inhabited or not.

In 1877, astronomer William Lassell discovered the first crater on the Moon.

He named it after himself. Since then, astronomers have been trying to answer these questions.

Can Telescopes See The Lunar Lander?

It turns out that the Moon is not only interesting from a scientific point of view but also from a technological perspective.

Telescopes have been used to study the Moon for centuries. And now, scientists are working on sending them to the Moon.

But can the telescopes here on earth see much? Would it be possible for them to see the Lunar Lander? What’s the Lunar Lander, I pretend to hear you ask? Good question!

Lunar Lander

A Lunar Lander is an object placed on the lunar surface by a spacecraft.

It’s designed to land softly and safely. These objects are usually about the size of a small car. 

There’s one specific Lunar Lander that’s incredibly famous. The Apollo Lunar Module.

Commonly just referred to as the Lunar Lander, the Apollo Lunar Module was developed by NASA in collaboration with the United States Air Force.

This module would eventually take astronauts to the Moon.

Apollo Lunar Module

In 1959, NASA began developing its own version of the Lunar Lander. The Lunar Orbiter was launched into orbit around the Moon.

It took pictures of the Moon’s surface and sent them back to Earth. These images were later combined to create an amazing image.

This picture shows the first-ever close-up photos of the Moon. It was taken in 1967 by the Lunar Orbiter 1.

The Lunar Orbiter 1 was the first mission where the Apollo Lunar Module was tested.

The Lunar Lander was successfully tested in 1969. The Apollo Lunar Module landed on the Moon. It carried three men to the surface.

Two of them walked across the Moon’s surface, while the third stayed inside the Lunar Module. After their return, they gave a press conference.

After the success of the Apollo missions, NASA continued to develop more advanced versions of the Lunar Lander called Lunar Excursion Vehicles (LEV).

One of these vehicles was the Lunokhod. It was capable of carrying up to 3 people. It had two legs and could move over rough terrain. It was used to collect soil samples from the Moon.


In the Lunokhod program, a series of lunar rovers were designed and delivered to the moon.

Each rover was equipped with cameras and other instruments.

Some of them were able to drive themselves. Others were controlled remotely.

Lunar Prospector

NASA has also worked on other types of Lunar Landers.

For example, the Lunar Prospector was able to detect water ice on the Moon’s surface. It was also equipped with cameras and spectrometers.

All in all, there are about 10 Lunar Landers currently on the moon.

We know they’re there because of constant monitoring. But can anyone see them using a telescope?

Can Telescopes See The Lunar Landers?

Can Telescopes See The Lunar Landers?

Telescopes are very powerful. They can magnify objects thousands of times.

So if you face a telescope to a lunar landing site, it might be possible to see some things. But most of the time, the moon will look blurry.

And you’ll probably only get a small view of the area.

There’s not a telescope on earth that’s able to see the remains of the Apollo Lunar Module or the Lunar Lander site. That’s because the Moon is too far away.

Even though telescopes have gotten much better over the years, they still aren’t too good at seeing such small details over such long distances.

Why Can’t We See The Lunar Landers Using A Telescope?

You may be wondering if we have telescopes strong enough to see into other galaxies, then why can’t we see the Lunar Landers? Especially since the moon is a lot closer than other galaxies.

Well, the answer is a little more complicated than you’d think.

The first thing to understand is that light travels at 186,000 miles per second.

This means that when you look at something, it doesn’t take long for the light to travel from your eye to the object.

If an object is really close to us, it won’t take very long for the light to reach our eyes.

But if the object is really far away, it takes longer for the light to reach us. When light reaches Earth, it takes about 8 minutes to go around the planet.

Light takes about 30 hours to go around the Moon. So when we look at the Moon, it looks blurred because the light took so long to reach us.

If we want to see the Lunar Landers, we need a telescope that can focus on the Moon. Telescopes work by focusing light onto a tiny spot called a pinhole.

To make sure the light gets focused properly, the telescope needs to move back and forth along its axis. But this causes the image to appear blurry.

How Can I See The Lunar Landers?

So it’s currently not possible to see a Lunar Lander through a telescope, but does that mean it’s impossible to see them at all? Not necessarily.

There are ways you can see the Lunar Landers without a telescope. 

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is a satellite that orbits the Moon every day. It takes high-resolution photographs of the Moon’s surface.

With this data, we’re able to build maps of the entire Moon. We can even identify craters and mountains.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiters (LRO) was launched in 2009. Its mission is to map the Moon with incredible detail.

The orbiter uses a laser to measure distances between itself and the Moon. By knowing the distance, we can figure out exactly where the Moon is located.

Once we know where the Moon is, we can start mapping it. We can also create 3D models of the Moon. This allows scientists to study the Moon’s features up close.

We know that there are many different kinds of rocks on the Moon.

But how do we know what kind of rocks are on the Moon? Well, we use satellites like the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to find out.

But because of this satellite, we’re able to see clear images of the Lunar Landers.

These images show us exactly where the landers landed.

You can even zoom in and see the lander’s footprints! To see them just go to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Gallery online where NASA regularly updates and displays what it’s captured. 

Final Thoughts

The Lunar Landers are proof that mankind has been to the moon. They are evidence of our achievement as a species.

Though we may not be able to see them with a telescope, we’re still able to view them.

Thanks to the help of satellites such as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we have clearer images of the Lunar Landers than some telescope could ever take.

Perhaps one day there will be a telescope strong enough to see them but for now, the technology is still under development.

Given how fast we’ve developed space tech in just the last few decades, after only just learning to fly a few years before that, that could be a lot sooner than we think!

Gordon Watts