Apollo 12 astronaut Conrad: This is the blackest black I ever saw.
During the Apollo 12 mission astronaut Conrad made the following observation in lunar orbit. You can find the transcript on the history.nasa.gov website. This information is used under the fair use policy. Conrad: "Even Earth orbit at night or the daytime, the sky was never as black as it is here". According to Conrad the sky, as he calls it, is the blackest black he has ever seen. If this is the case then the stars must have stuck out like a sore thumb.
084:06:09 Conrad: Right. Another interesting thing is - This white or gray-white Moon, it contrasts very starkly with the black sky just like everyone's reported. And maybe even so on the TV down there. But the black is about as black as you've ever seen in your life. It's just - doesn't have any - any hues or anything to it. It's just solid straight dull black, and then the Moon is just sort of very light concrete color. In fact, if I wanted to look at something that I thought was about the same color as the Moon, I'd go out and look at my driveway.
084:06:52 Weitz: Okay. We'll send ...
084:06:53 Conrad: Not near as - even Earth orbit - Even Earth orbit at night or the daytime, the sky was never as black as it is here. This is the blackest black I ever saw. Al described it as dull, and it doesn't even seem like a dull black when you look at it on the horizon, to me. It's like an ebony black. It's as coal black as I've ever seen.
Was Conrad really in Lunar orbit or was he talking about project LOLA, the simulator that was used to "practice" the Apollo moon landings. According to NASA Conrad flew the following missions, Gemini 5, Gemini 11, Apollo 12 and Skylab 2. For a man with this many space flights to his name you would expect that he would have had enough experience to see some stars. But he calls the sky the darkest dark he has ever seen. This does't make any sense. You would expect that the stars would be so bright that he would mention them, don't you think?
These kind of statements by the Apollo astronauts are what the debate should be about. Do you think Conrad was whistle-blowing? In our opinion there have been many times when the Apollo astronauts have tried to leave critical messages. By saying that the sky was "coal black" he was trying to tell us that they were not in Lunar orbit. If they had been in Lunar orbit he would have spoken in awe about the stars.
Video on the NASA youtube channel, go to 4:25 and 9:14 to hear about how you can see stars from the ISS.