Author Topic: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines  (Read 1658 times)

Offline apollo16uvc

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Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« on: February 15, 2020, 01:58:48 PM »
NASA made several attempts to record stars with 16mm film. I think they pushed 800 or 1600 film to ASA 12800, resulting in extremely large film grain.

I and OBM talked briefly about this, for the longest time neither of us could find these magazines. I just assume the attempts failed because the resolution was just too low, lenses didn't let through enough light and the shutter speeds were too fast.

Recently I took an other deep-dive in archive.org because I was looking for high-quality scans of the 16mm mags. I found ultra-high bitrate MXF files there, and have been spending the last week downloading all of them. I've got a few projects in mind, but thats for something else...

What I found there are the Apollo 16 attempts for dim-light 16mm 'photography'

AS16-MAG II, HH & MM

The high-quality MXF file can be found at MPEG2 (5,4gb)

I havent looked through the Apollo photoraphic record documents for some time, but I think they tried this at other missions also? not sure.


I have already told OBM about this, and figured some would like to see his progress in finding stars. I have gone through it a couple of times and there are several short segments of bright dots. And the occasional streaks...

Looking forward to OBM's work.
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2020, 02:20:14 AM »
I keep dipping into this but so far have only successfully identified Ursa Major in Mag HH:



HH is listed in the photo index as being 'Sunrise solar corona. REV 38,REV 47/48'. There are other things that appear to be celestial objects but as they are just a few objects it's difficult to be absolutely certain. Sunrise would have been on the lunar far side and Ken Mattingly was on his own at the time,so there isn't a lot in the transcripts to go on, but Ursa Major would certainly have been in the right place for that.

There is quite a bit of this:



but having seen this on magazines that were used for other things I'm confident they are just headers and not of interest.

What is of interest is the footage of what appears to be John and Charlie suiting up prior to entering the LM:



Which I don't think has been seen before.

Magazine MM is listed as dim light photography, which could equally apply to objects on the surface (similar photography was done in Apollo 15 looking at objects in Earthshine) and some of the features in it look more like glints off the edges of craters.

I'm dopwnloading the MPEG2 file to see if that reveals any more detail

Apollo 14 also used a 16mm magazine (J) for Gegenschein region photography, but this has not (as far as I can tell) appeared on line and is not listed in the photo index.

Retro Space Images recently posted this image of magazines returned by Apollo 14 awaiting transfer for processing:



It looks to me as though the list on the lid goes up to 'I' and 'J' is missing. Either that or it is a smudged 'J' ad 'I' is missing, but we know that I exists!

Offline smartcooky

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2020, 04:37:36 AM »
Looks like it goes

BB, CC, DD, A, B, C, D, G, H, J
AA

So "E" and "I" is missing
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2020, 05:09:58 AM »
Looks like it goes

BB, CC, DD, A, B, C, D, G, H, J
AA

So "E" and "I" is missing

And also F, though the 'G' could also be an E!

Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2020, 07:22:54 AM »
Those bars in the second image are seen in other b/w films, for later calibration I suppose. But none have all those spots like the ones seen in that mag.

So I do think those are stars.  Don't know how this happened, they rewound the 16mm film after shooting the calibration on earth before mission?

Alternatively, they look like the multiple windowpanes, for example at 5:56 when the sun angle and viewing angle gets just right.

I've talked with someone about the MXF files and he said sometimes mags are played in reverse in the video files. Don't know if this is the case.

I advice downloading large archive.org files via the torrent they provide. It allows to download multiple files at once and gives me much higher download speeds and reliability than downloading via browser. When I have the time I am going to attempt stacking some curious frames.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 07:30:35 AM by apollo16uvc »
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2020, 10:37:47 AM »
You see exactly the same sort of effect on the start of this reel:

https://archive.org/details/Apollo-16_Onboard-Film-Mags_AACCN.mxf

Despite many attempts Astrometry refused to identify anything in the images of that type, even when I made 'fake' ones by drawing white circles on black to eliminate the noise. In my opinion the blobs are just far too big on the film to be stars.

For the record, here's the astrometry.net analysis of Ursa Major from Magazine HH.



The sharp eyed amongst you will spot that the constellation is reversed, which is interesting given that the footage of Charlie and John is not. Flipping the view returned the same result. The image I used there is a stacked one, but an unstacked frame also gave the same result.

Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2020, 12:19:19 PM »
There's a sequence of exposures in Magazine MM, the dim light photography, that also seems to show Ursa Major.

The stacked image failed to find a match in Astrometry.net thanks to all the background noise but there is a clear visual match, as shown by the animation I've done here:


Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2020, 12:51:16 PM »
Great find i'd day!

This also explains and confirms my theory on why no research was found on these films and why they were (afaik) not published before... the quality is just too poor. The Extreme pushing and tiny frame size (Compared to 35mm/70mm) really worked against NASA here.

It is entirely possibly that only now with digital scanning techniques we can pull out details that was previously impossible with analog copies.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 12:58:22 PM by apollo16uvc »
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2020, 04:20:57 PM »
My only issue with the Magazine MM images is the bright light in there. I can't reconcile an image of Ursa Major with the sun anywhere near it! Need to know more about when they were taken and the exact orbital trajectory at that time.

Offline JayUtah

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2020, 10:13:01 PM »
I'm gonna confess:  that looked like a Xerox of somebody's butt there for a second.
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2020, 01:53:01 AM »
I'm gonna confess:  that looked like a Xerox of somebody's butt there for a second.

OK so we have mooning and Uranus gags to choose from...

Offline Obviousman

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2020, 01:58:15 AM »
I'm gonna confess:  that looked like a Xerox of somebody's butt there for a second.

Snap!

Offline molesworth

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2020, 07:50:38 AM »
Looks like it goes

BB, CC, DD, A, B, C, D, G, H, J
AA

So "E" and "I" is missing
Might they have skipped "I" (and possibly "O") for the same reason they do in e.g. number plates in some countries - in case they were confused for numerals 1 and 0?
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2020, 08:20:04 AM »
Looks like it goes

BB, CC, DD, A, B, C, D, G, H, J
AA

So "E" and "I" is missing
Might they have skipped "I" (and possibly "O") for the same reason they do in e.g. number plates in some countries - in case they were confused for numerals 1 and 0?

'I' is listed as re-entry footage in the Photo Index, which is definitely available.

Going back to Apollo 16, assumin the identification of Ursa Major is correct, it looks like the dim light photography was done on orbit 37, and 16mm DAC footage was taken at the same time as other observations, in this case 35mm film of the surface. My theory at the moment is that the flare of brightness is from the lunar surface emerging into daylight. Ursa Major would be to the north. The CSM was angled to use the Metric Mapping Camera on rev 37, and this returned oblique shots of the moon looking South.

Does this fit with the orientation of windows in the CSM?

Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Stars in Apollo 16mm magazines
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2020, 01:54:02 PM »
Judging from the addition to your site, you seem to have figured it out yourself.

Orientations and window locations seem to all fall into place for these dots to be Ursa Major

Great work OBM, as always.


As you say in your vid, they did try to record waste water release contamination, which appears to have been photographed by the stellar camera (See the few frames online with streaks). Perhaps the unidentifiable dots seen in the 16mm frame are this also? If they recorded at the same time.


Have you ever thought about asking an American on here for help on filing a FOIA for the stellar camera frames? And I mean proper scans, not what appear to be mobile photo phones of film held infront of a light.

If they are willing to loan me a copy of the (35mm sized if I remember?) stellar film I could scan it with my equipment.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2020, 01:56:35 PM by apollo16uvc »
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