Sunday, March 19, 2017

Balloons on the Moon... and other errors by Bret Sheppard

        Bret Colin Sheppard is the artist-type from New Mexico who was so massively impressed by Ken Johnston that he became Johnston's publicist--probably without compensation, although we don't know that for sure. This blog took a critical look at what Sheppard and his squeeze Karen Patrick came up with last June, and a lively discussion including comments from BCS himself ensued. So there's no need to flog the dead horse of Sheppard's "lunar anomalies" here.

        Sheppard has now self-published a 104-page book, Flyover Tsiolkovsky Crater: A Secret Base on the Moonnote 1. I just had to giggle when I came to this bit:

        This is Apollo 12 Hasselblad image AS12-47-6890, and that little white blemish in the large crater lower right is what Sheppard thinks is a balloon. He even wonders if Apollo Lunar Modules benefited from a secret balloon-assist to ensure gentle touchdowns. Hilarious. I like to think that my readership is sufficiently au fait with fundamental principles of physics that I don't need to spell out why the idea of a balloon on the Moon makes me giggle. Hint: There's no atmosphere on the Moon.

"Tsiolkovsky... Okay, I've got it"
        But the central thesis of the book is that Apollo 14 shot 16mm footage of crater Tsiolkovsky which revealed a lunar base, exactly as Ken Johnston has claimed. Sheppard's thesis fails, however, because he can not overcome the following objections:

1. The entire 01:29:12 film is available online and Tsiolkovsky does not even have a walk-on role.
2. An index map identifying all Apollo 14 terrain filming targets is also online. Tsiolkovsky is the large dark blotchy crater very far to the lower right.
3. Modern digital images of Tsiolkovsky, from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, show no lunar base, even at the best resolution of 0.5 m/px (the images Sheppard  uses are about 100 times worse.)
4. The dialog Sheppard considers clinches the case does not clinch anything. Ed Mitchell says "..that's Tsiolkovsky. Okay. I've got it." But that was during only the third lunar orbit, and Mitchell was not shooting film but merely sighting in the navigation sextant.
5. Apollo 14 never flew directly over Tsiolkovsky. The crater is at latitude  20.4° S, and the orbital inclination of Apollo 14 was 14°. The Apollo 14 crew captured Tsiolkovsky in four still frames, all of them very wide angle. Here it is in frame 10301 (with brightness boosted,) its very steep central peak catching the sunlight in a way that a layman might think was a sign of life. This shot was taken after the lunar surface mission was over and they were headed home.

6. Sheppard keeps insisting that the navigation sextant was an integral part of the 16mm Data Acquisition Camera, but that's not true. The normal use of the sextant was through an eyepiece--an adapter was provided to attach the DAC if needed. This is plainly stated in a handbook and several examples of this are seen in the film.

        Karen Patrick is credited as editor of this garbage. In which case, I hold her responsible for the following text, which I swear I have transcribed exactly as printed. I'd cite a page number but I can't because Karen forgot to provide pagination:
"The image was analized for any known possibilities of mechanical artifacts and found to be part of the image and not an affectation of poor scanning by a proffessional photographer. It is truly a subject in the image as oposed to a reflection. It is exactly what it looks like, an un-natural structure or engineered structure as oposed to natural geological lunar formations on the surface due to the array which woulld be considered beyond coincidence in nature. In the same way a crop of corn would be considered engineered on Earth."
        I make that five keyboard errors plus one incomprehensible sentence. Since we live in an age of self-publishing, I guess we have to brace ourselves for more and more of this kind of crap.

Update: Was Karen Patrick dreaming of Paris when she composed this crap?
        A page from the book. Who knew they had boulevards at the Space Center?

Update, late April 2017
        The book is now listed OUT OF PRINT, a mere four months after its publication date. I can't help wondering if Bret Sheppard recalled it, after the devastating errors were pointed out by this blog and others.
[1] ISBN 978-1541162624


Trekker said...

This is a blown up version of the image, showing the 'balloon'.

I assume it's a blemish, like the blue flashes you talked about previously in blogs relating to Hoagland's claims?

Trekker said...

The crater with the 'balloon' is Pasteur Y. On the LRO map, it appears rotated 90 degrees counter clockwise to the Apollo image in question. Naturally, there's no balloon there.

Unknown said...

I can't believe he's not ranting about that phantom planet passing in front of the Earth. Hoagland would be screaming STUNNING CONFIRMATION and writing the next chapter of his looooooooooong awaited book about it already.

Stay Tuned.....

OneBigMonkey said...

Whereabouts in Tsiokovskiy is the alleged base?

Having downloaded the entire JAXA dataset for the crater to make 3D rotatable models I can't seem to find a single one?

Unless the crack down the middle of the central isn't just a gap in the data and it's actually a secret entrance!

expat said...

Wow, OBM, that's brilliant.

jim oberg said...

OBM, I'll mail you the secret map --

jim oberg said...

Another beyond-human-bounds of goofiness is the thesis that a crewman on the flight, Ed Mitchell, the famous 'ESP/UFO, astronaut, would have observed aliens and not later revealed it. Mitchell made it clear he was talking about stories other people had told him, he never had any personal UFO/aliens encounters and neither dod any of his colleagues on their space missions [he never disclosed what Gordon Cooper may have told him about his own pre-NASA sightings]. As for the moon flights, he was adamant: "We did it like we said."

Anonymous said...

Where are the images of the far side of the Moon?

Anonymous said...

Once again, we find ourselves having stumbled into Richard C Hoagland's, nuclear bailiwick: Project A119

THE Orbs Whiperer said...

Now why would you want to open a can of worms, here, Jim? Okay, I'll bite. Just what do you suppose that Gordon Cooper may have told Ed Mitchell, about pre-owned, NASA, UFOs?

expat said...

« Where are the images of the far side of the Moon? »

In all the same places as the images of the near side.

jim oberg said...

Cooper's UFO stories metamorphosed enormously over the years, growing wilder and more fantastic with each retelling. If Cooper had told Mitchell the pre-NASA stories while they were in training together in 1968-9 on the Apollo-10 backup crew [often alone together in the LM trainer during simulations], I suspect they had little similarity to the versions he told on TV a decade later when he had washed out of the astronaut corps and quietly been booted out. Mitchell would not want that variability to be so obvious, he wanted to preserve Cooper's reputation [and the utility of his stories to the UFO movement] so had every reason to not divulge testimony that would have discredited them.

Dee said...

Expat: "Who knew they had boulevards at the Space Center?"

Yeah, JSC is the size of a village. Space Center Boulevard is a large one.

Not sure about the picture though. It was building #37. So my guess would be something like "Space Center Blvd, Bldg 37"? Not clear how to match that though, the building is not really situated on that boulevard. Perhaps someone typed Blvd instead of Bldg? Ah well...


expat said...

Yes, the LRL is indeed in Bldg. 37. So it's one of Karen's keyboard errors.

expat said...

I did some additional research and realized I was wrong about the lunar orbital inclination of Apollo 14. It was 14°, not 6°. I've edited the text.

expat said...

For the sake of completeness, here are the lunar orbit inclinations of all the lunar landers. The negative signs indicates that the orbits were retrograde.

A11 -1°
A12 -14°
A14 -14°
A15 -29°
A16 -11°
A17 -20°


THE Orbs Whiperer said...

Alright, Jim, then where can we please, find accounts of the original, early, tales, to which you allude?

expat said...

Jim may have more...

Anonymous said...

It would seem that Jim Oberg isn't the only one putting false words in the late, Edgar Mitchell's mouth. That bogus British rag, the Mirror, fabricated an interview which never took place, says Dr Mitchell.

jim oberg said...

I've been tracking Cooper's stories since the mid-1980s and posting the reports on the internet since well before the turn of the century, see the file at

It's not as if it was hidden or unindexed, you just never bothered to look for it.

Think very carefully before insisting that I have posted false words attributed to Mitchell.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of compounding the offense by repeating gossip: "Mitchell would not want that variability to be so obvious, he wanted to preserve Cooper's reputation [and the utility of his stories to the UFO movement] so had every reason to not divulge testimony that would have discredited them."

It's a very convenient assumption to characterize the deceased as he never himself did do. Let's think carefully, about that.

THE Orbs Whiperer said...

Cooper and Mitchell were likely agents of the UFO Control System, only presenting the disinformation which NASA directed them to disseminate. The fact that they so effectively trolled the likes of Jim Oberg, is just icing on the cake.

Anonymous said...

You miss the finer point, Theo. Jim Oberg is also an agent of the UFO Control System, whether he even realizes it or not. He brings more attention to disinformation that might otherwise, well have gone un-noticed, and his weak attempts at debunking only lend more credence to the wild, tall, tales which he fails to shoot down.

Anonymous said...

May I ask why the Tsiokovskiy central peak in sunlight has to be a sign of life?. Being an amateur astronomer I'm (rather I was, since I do not observ Luna as frequently as in the past) used to see central peaks of craters bathed in light while the floor is still in darkness or the large shadows cast by, say, the mountains of Mare Imbrium. It's not natural at all.

expat said...

Sure you may. It doesn't. Only dunces like Bret Sheppard would think that.

jim oberg said...

It's not the central peak they're talking about, it's a few dots halfway to the rim, in a section of the floor that is in shadow. At higher sun angle this is exactly where a range of hills is located -- the white dots in the low-angle image are obviously the hilltops peeking up into the sunlight. Not 'illuminated domes' of an alien base.

Anonymous said...

First of all, there's an error in my message. Those things are natural, as is also continuing with my Moon observations to see the peaks of some mountains of said lunar sea shining during sunrise while everything around is also in darkness. Quite a sight.

Thanks for letting me know that it's not the central peak of Tsiolkosky.

In any case the things that bugs me are:

1) Why "alien bases/ships/whatever" have to be the explanation for all those things, be natural formations, blemishes, or artifacts that pop up under aggresive image processing and not other far more mundane things?

2) Besides the obvious reasons of space exploration being expensive, so they cannot go there/send probes/whatever to see with their own eyes the Truth™, why they keep using NASA images if they hate it so much?. Haven't they thought evil NASA could have processed the images in Soviet fashion -especially those sent by space probes- so weird things would have been deleted?.

I often think the line between someone who is simply ignorant (and prefers to continue that way, as he likes it) and someone who knows that is lying to make money/YT views/whatever of people who love woo is very thin.