In questo video, Patrick Moore, storico conduttore della BBC in campo astronautico e astronomico scomparso di recente, intervista Neil Armstrong. L'intervista fu trasmessa per la prima volta il 19 novembre 1970 nell'ambito della trasmissione The Sky At Night.
Oltre a essere interessante come testimonianza di prima mano di chi ha camminato sulla Luna, è un'altra dimostrazione della falsità del mito lunacomplottista secondo il quale Armstrong si vergognava e rifiutava di parlare alla stampa della propria missione: semplicemente sceglieva con cura le trasmissioni e gli eventi pubblici ai quali partecipava.
Ecco una trascrizione veloce della conversazione.
MOORE: Mr. Armstrong, I do realize that when you were on the Moon you had very different time for gazing upwards, but could you tell us something about what the sky actually looks like from the Moon? The Sun, the Earth, the stars, if any, and so on?
ARMSTRONG: The sky is a deep black when viewed from the Moon, as it is when viewed from cislunar space – the space between the Earth and the Moon. The Earth is the only visible object other than the Sun that can be seen. Although there have been some reports of seeing planets, I myself did not see planets from the surface, but I suspect they might be visible. The Earth is quite beautiful from space and from the Moon it looks quite small and quite remote but... It's very blue and covered with white lace of the clouds and the continents are clearly seen, although they have very little color from that distance.
MOORE: What about the Sun? Did you see any trace of the corona?
ARMSTRONG: No, the glare from the Sun on the helmet visor was too difficult to pick out the corona. The only time we could see the corona was during an eclipse of the Sun from the Moon – that is, when we were flying through the Moon's shadow and could observe the solar corona peeking out from behind the Moon.
MOORE: Looking at the photographs that you brought back, the colored photographs of the Moon's surface, it seems that the colour of the surface actually varies according to the angle from which you see it. Is this so? Does it do this?
ARMSTRONG: Yes, it certainly does. It's a characteristic that we observed first while traveling around the Moon in orbit. We could see that at the terminator – at the boundary between the black part of the Moon and the lighted part of the Moon – it was as if you were looking at a television set with the contrast turned to full contrast: very black and very white. As you moved further into the light there were more and more shades of gray. But as you moved further, such that the Sun was higher above the horizon, you actually start to see the tans and browns appear, although at a very low level. Similarly, on the surface of the Moon the same characteristic is evident. You can see browns if the Sun is high enough. Apollo 12, for example, landed while the Sun was only 5° above the horizon, so when they arrived they saw no browns or tans anywhere – only fairly high-contrast grays.
MOORE: But you did.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, I did. The Sun was at 11°, and Apollo 12 did also the next day, when they arose from their sleeping period and the sun was higher. Of course then the browns were observable to them.
MOORE: When you were actually walking about on the Moon's surface and kicking about a certain amount of dust, did you notice any local colour? And also, were you at all subconsciously worried about the possibility of unsafe areas?
ARMSTRONG: Well, the color is a puzzling phenomenon on the Moon. Aside from the characteristics that I've already mentioned, you generally have the impression of being on a desert-like surface, with rather light-colored hues. Yet when you look at the material at close range, as if in your hand, you find it's a charcoal gray in fact, and we were never able to find any things that were very different from that color. I suspect that as we get more and more samples with future flights we will see that there is in fact some color but the optical properties on the Moon are most peculiar.
MOORE: When you were actually walking about, did you have the have any difficulty in distance judging? Because I think I heard you say once that near... far things looked quite near.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, we had some difficulties in perception of distance. For example, our television camera we judged to be, from the cockpit of the lunar module, only about 50 to 60 feet away, yet we knew that we had pulled it out to the full extension of a 100-foot cable. Similarly, we had difficulty guessing how far the hills out on the horizon might be. A peculiar phenomenon is the closeness of the horizon, due to the greater curvature of the Moon than we have here on Earth – of course four times greater, and the fact that it is an irregular surface, with crater rims overlying other crater rims. You can't see the real horizon, you're seeing hills that are somewhat closer to you. There was a large crater which we overflew during our final approach which was... had hills of the order of 100 feet in height, and we were only 11-1200 feet west of that hill and we couldn't see it. A 100-foot-high hill from from 1100-1200 feet away, so...
MOORE: Did you notice any obvious differences between the far side and the near side, as you went around it? I mean, apart from the obvious differences in topography?
ARMSTRONG: No observable differences in color, but then the Sun's angle was always somewhat different over there, so it would be difficult to make a general correlation. I would say that topography is a striking change – of course, as all your viewers know, there are no seas on the far side of the Moon, it's all highlands and high mountains, big craters, so it's strikingly different from the side...
MOORE: There's one more thing I'd like to ask you. You are one of the very, very few people I think whose opinion on this is really worth having – in fact there are only four of you. Do you think, from your knowledge of the Moon, having been there, that it is going to be possible, in the foreseeable future, to set up scientific bases there on anything like a large scale?
ARMSTRONG: Oh, I'm quite certain that we'll have such bases in our lifetime, somewhat like the Antarctic stations and similar scientific outposts, continually manned. Although certainly there's the problem of the environment, the vacuum and the high and low temperatures of day and night, still in all, in many ways it's more hospitable than Antarctica might be. There are no storms, no snow, no high winds, no unpredictable weather phenomena that we're yet aware of, and the gravity is a very pleasant kind of place to work in, better than here on Earth, and I think it would be quite a pleasant place to do scientific work, and quite practical.
MOORE: Mr. Armstrong, thank you very much, and again let me say what a tremendous honour and privilege it has been to have you here with us.
ARMSTRONG: Thank you.