Callum Hoare – Daily Express May 12, 2020
NEIL ARMSTRONG told the BBC that the Moon’s surface was “as if you were looking at a television set” in an interview 50 years ago, unearthed footage shows.
Armstrong became an international celebrity after becoming the first man to walk on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, during NASA‘s Apollo 11 mission. The former test pilot jumped off the lunar lander and delivered his “one small step” speech to the millions watching back on Earth, after completing John F. Kennedy’s goal of putting a man on the Moon by the end of the Sixties. Shortly after, he was joined by his colleague Buzz Aldrin and the pair buried the US flag into the surface, before completing their experiments and eventually jetting off to rendezvous with Michael Collins, who spent 21 hours orbiting in the Command Module.
On returning to Earth, the trio went on an around-the-world media tour to detail their achievements and in 1970, Armstrong spoke to Patrick Moore at the BBC, where he was asked what the surface of the Moon looked like.
He said: “The colour of the surface certainly varies depending on the angle that you see it, it’s a characteristic that we observed first while travelling around the Moon in orbit.
“You could see that, 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.
“It was very black and very white, as you moved further into the light, there were more and more shades of grey.
“But as you moved further, such that the Sun was higher above the horizon, you actually started 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 five degrees above the horizon, so when they arrived, they saw no browns or tans anywhere only fairly high contrast.”
Armstrong went on to reveal how the colour of the surface appeared to change when he grabbed a sample.
He added: “But I did, the Sun was 11 degrees and Apollo 12 did also the next day, when they arose from their sleeping period, the Sun was higher, of course.
“The colour is a puzzling phenomenon on the Moon, asides from the characteristics that I’ve already mentioned.
“You generally have the impression of being on a desert-like surface, with rather light coloured hues, yet when you look at the material at close range – like in your hands – you find that it’s charcoal grey in fact and we were never able to find any things that were very different from that colour.
“I suspect that as we get more and more samples with future flights we will see that there is in fact some colour but the optical properties on the Moon are most peculiar.”
The late astronaut also added that he and Aldrin had trouble in their perception of distance, due to the curvature of the Moon.