Quirks and Quarks

Why are there no stars in the Apollo moon landing pictures?

Dr. Karun Thanjanur answers this week's Quirks Question.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the American flag after landing on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 space mission. (REUTERS)

This week our question comes from Tom Domonkos, a listener in St. Catharines, Ontario. Tom emailed us with his question about a particular observation.

"A while ago I was on a trip in the Nevada desert and spent a wonderful evening looking at the stars. I understand that stars look better when you get away from cities and ambient light pollution, and it was a sight to marvel at. Later I was looking at some pictures of the Apollo missions and the astronauts on the moon and of course the famous picture of earth taken from moon. I noticed something remarkable! Space was black in all the pictures I looked at photos from both the module and from the surface of the moon. Why are there no stars in the pictures?" 

The Earth is seen rising above the lunar horizon from the Apollo 8 spacecraft. (NASA)
To answer this question we reached Dr. Karun Thanjavur, a senior lab instructor in Astronomy at the University of Victoria

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