Seeing Stars on the Moon

Why don’t moon photos show stars?. Specifically, why can’t we see the stars in the photographs of the Apollo Astronauts on the moon? As the article clearly explains, all of the pictures were taken during lunar daylight, during which the lunar surface is well illuminated by the sun. This completely washes out the light from the stars. If you made a long enough exposure to catch the stars, the lunar surface, the astronauts and their gear, and the lunar lander would be grossly overexposed. This would defeat the purpose of documenting human activity on the moon.

In fact, this issue was anticipated by Arthur C. Clarke in his classic science fiction novel A Fall of Moondust, first published in 1961, eight years before the first Apollo expedition landed on the moon. . From page 154 of the Kindle edition:

The public expected to see stars in the lunar sky even during the daytime, because they were there. But the fact was that the human eye could not normally see them; during the day, the eye was so desensitised by the glare that the sky appeared an empty, absolute black. If you wanted to see the stars, you had to look for them through blinkers that cut off all other light; then your pupils would slowly expand, and one by one the stars would come out until they filled the field of view. But as soon as you looked at anything else—phut, out they went. The human eye could look at the daylight stars, or the daylight landscape; it could never see both at once.

But the TV camera could, if desired, and some directors preferred it to do so. Others argued that this falsified reality; it was one of those problems that had no correct answer. Jules sided with the realists, and kept the Star Gate circuit switched off unless the studio asked for it.

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