The wackiest Moon landing conspiracy claims

AS the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing approaches, the conspiracy theories claiming it was a hoax are gaining traction. And one "fascinating" allegation still has the world talking.

On July 20 (and July 21 in Australia), the world will celebrate 50 years since Apollo 11 touched down and Neil Armstrong stepped on to the lunar surface.

But many people believe that never happened at all; that the United States Government faked it.

In this era of "fake news" on social media and of increasing distrust in governments and institutions, the hoax theories keep gaining traction despite all the evidence to the contrary.

In this image provided by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin poses for a photograph beside the US flag deployed on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. Picture: Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP
In this image provided by NASA, astronaut Buzz Aldrin poses for a photograph beside the US flag deployed on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. Picture: Neil Armstrong/NASA via AP

A classic claim is that the American flag looks like it is flapping in the wind so it can't have been shot on the Moon, which has no atmosphere. However, the flag had a rod inside it to give it a shape, and as astronauts adjusted that rod so it looked like the flag was flapping.

Another false claim is that a lack of stars in the sky in the photos shows the film wasn't shot in space.

However, the bright lights at the landing site made it impossible for the stars to show up on camera film.

This photo taken by Neil Armstrong, shows astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the Moon's Sea of Tranquillity. Experts say the upcoming 50th anniversary will spark a new wave of hoax claims. Picture: Neil Armstrong/NASA/AFP
This photo taken by Neil Armstrong, shows astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the Moon's Sea of Tranquillity. Experts say the upcoming 50th anniversary will spark a new wave of hoax claims. Picture: Neil Armstrong/NASA/AFP

Stephan Lewandowsky, an Australian psychologist and conspiracy theory expert who is now a Professor at Bristol University, said he expected people would use the anniversary to "trot out lots of stuff that's long been debunked but seems to hang around in the minds of a hard core of aficionados".

"I think any major event will attract the attention of people who are distrustful of "official" accounts and will seek an alternative explanation," he said.

He said showing such people the hard evidence rarely got them to change their minds.

One of the most bizarre claims is that director Stanley Kubrick filmed the Moon landing on a sound stage.
One of the most bizarre claims is that director Stanley Kubrick filmed the Moon landing on a sound stage.

David Smith, a senior lecturer at the United States Studies Centre, said one of the most "fascinating and bizarre" theories was that Stanley Kubrick, the director of 2001: A Space Odyssey had filmed a fake landing and scattered clues to it through another of his films, The Shining.

Believers think Kubrick shot the landing vision in a studio.

They point to the young character Danny, who is wearing an Apollo 11 sweater, and to the room 237 that features in the flick. They claim that reflects that the Moon is 237,000 miles from Earth - although it isn't.

"This is the inventiveness of conspiracy theories," Dr Smith said. "It's part of a long-term fascination with secret societies and hidden truths, hidden meanings in religious texts … they feel like part of an initiated elite.

"All of this is enabled by the internet."

Buzz Aldrin, who stepped on to the Moon after Neil Armstrong, famously punched a conspiracy theorist who approached him.

Australian National University Associate Professor Colin Klein, from the School of Philosophy, told News Corp Australia that the moon landing hoax theory had "surprising longevity".

"Some people are looking for explanations in a frightening world," he said.

"Some people have come to distrust official stories for other reasons, and see the moon landing as yet another official story."

In April this year, NASA's former chief historian Roger Launius said as the landings drift further into the past and people struggle to work out what is real and what is "fake news" more people would come to believe in them.

Flight controllers at the Mission Operations Control Room in Houston celebrate the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Picture: NASA via AP
Flight controllers at the Mission Operations Control Room in Houston celebrate the successful conclusion of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Picture: NASA via AP

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