Can Telescopes See The Moon Landing Site?

It’s 1968. 

The Soviets are kicking our ass in the space race. They’ve just successfully launched the first crew into space and made a million Americans weep in the process. We’re down. Bad. 

How can we beat that? 

No one knows. That is until one man comes up with an idea. Plucky John C. Houbolt. The Soviets may have been able to get to space, but what if we managed to get to the moon? 

And thus begins the hard work.

Calculation after calculation, trials, failed trials, exploded ships, brutal training – all to prove that the US has cajones as big as the planet they’re trying to get to. 

Can Telescopes See The Moon Landing Site

It works. 

On July 21st, 1969 we manage to get to the Moon. Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon and famously says, ‘This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.’ 

Indeed it was one giant leap for mankind.

Landing on the moon was just the beginning of interplanetary exploration and since then we’ve sent probes, satellites, and spacecraft to so many other planets in the hopes of reaching them one day. It all started with the moon landing. 

The landing site is actually still there on the moon. If you look up pictures you can see the remains of the American flag and the tech left behind.

But wouldn’t it be cool to be able to see it through a telescope? You’d be looking at the moon landing site with your own two eyes. Is it even possible?

Can You See The Moon Landing Site Through A Telescope?

A telescope is basically a magnifying glass used to view objects that would otherwise be too far away or dimly lit to see without help.

In astronomy, telescopes are used to observe distant celestial bodies such as stars, galaxies, and nebulae. 

Telescopes come in different sizes from handheld devices like binoculars to large observatories with hundreds of lenses.

There are also special-purpose telescopes designed to perform specific tasks such as observing the sun, capturing images of exoplanets, or searching for dark matter.

But are they strong enough to be able to see the moon landing site? Technically, no.

But it might be possible to use a special kind of lens called a hyperfocal lens which could make it possible. 

What Are Hyperfocal Lenses And How Do They Work?

Hyperfocal lenses are specially designed lenses that allow us to focus on any object regardless of its distance from the camera.

This means that when using these lenses, you don’t need to adjust the focal length of the lens to change the magnification.

Instead, you simply zoom in or out by changing the size of the aperture.

These lenses were originally developed for photography and were later adapted for astronomical purposes.

However, their main purpose is not to capture the image of the moon landing site.

Rather, they are designed to create a sharp picture of a starfield or galaxy.

So how do hyperfocal lenses work? Well, they are made up of multiple elements and each element is curved.

When light enters the lens, it bends around each element, creating a focused beam of light.

As this happens, the light passes through the center of the lens where it gets redirected towards the sensor.

Now, because the light is bent around the lens elements, the amount of bending depends on the distance between the object and the lens.

So, if the object is closer to the lens, more curvature will occur than if the object is farther away. This results in a sharper image.

Theoretically, you could use a hyperfocal lens to view the moon. Whether you’d be able to see the moon landing site depends.

One of the factors it depends on is your position. Another is sky conditions. And obviously, the big one is the position of the moon.

If we assume that the moon is directly above you, then it would take an extremely long exposure time to get a clear shot of the moon landing site since it’s so close to Earth.

Even if you had a very powerful telescope, it would only be able to capture a small portion of the moon.

However, if the moon is further away, you may be able to spot some of the lunar artifacts.

According to NASA, the Apollo 11 mission took place in 1969 during the first manned lunar landing.

At the time, the moon was about 238,000 miles (384,000 kilometers) away from Earth.

In order to see the moon landing sites, you’ll have to wait until the moon is much closer to us.

What About A Telescope With An Adaptive Optics System?

What About A Telescope With An Adaptive Optics System?

An adaptive optics system uses a laser to measure the shape of the atmosphere and corrects for distortions caused by turbulence.

It works by measuring the wavefront distortion of incoming light and then compensating for it.

Using one of these bits of gear, you could theoretically see the moon landing site.

Unfortunately, this isn’t something that has been tested yet. But, it’s likely that it won’t be able to detect the moon landing site. That’s because the moon is so far away.

In fact, it takes light about six minutes to reach the surface of the moon.

By the time the light reaches the surface, the moon is already moving away from Earth at a speed of 3,200 mph (5,300 km/h).

This means that even if the adaptive optics system can detect the moon landing site, it wouldn’t be able to correct for the movement of the moon.

But What About Using A Digital Camera To Capture Images Of The Moon Landing Sites?

Another option is to use a digital camera instead of a telescope. Digital cameras have come a long way since they’ve been developed.

The Nikon COOLPIX 9000 camera even comes with a built-in moon scene mode and 83x zoom for shooting the moon.

It can get clearer pictures than some telescopes on the market. You could point the camera at the moon and capture images of the moon landing sites.

Unfortunately, there are two problems with using a digital camera.

First, you need a tripod or other support to keep the camera steady enough to capture good photos. Second, you need to know where to look.

You’re not going to be able to just point the camera at the right location without knowing what direction the moon is facing.

Final Thoughts: So How Can I See The Moon Landing Site?

One thing you can do is find out when the moon will be closest to Earth.

Then, you can plan ahead. However, you’re still going to have to wait a while before you can see them.

Even though the moon is 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometers) away, it moves across the sky at a rate of 1 degree every hour.

So, if you want to see the moon landings, you’ll have to make sure that you don’t miss your chance and figure out the correct position for viewing based on where the moon is facing and the time of night/day.

And remember to use a telescope or camera with a 50x zoom, minimum. That will improve the likelihood of you seeing the moon landing sites.

Gordon Watts