After much digging on the internet and begging people in academic & meteorological institutions, I have enough photos to demonstrate matching weather patterns on apollo 11 and satellite images.
What's been delaying the process has been the non-availability of the appropriate volume of ESSA images that I've been able to use elsewhere. As a result I've begged favours from some very nice people at the University of Wisconsin, who have an archive of AST images, and also from a very nice man at the Australian Meteorological Bureau who mailed some images from a NIMBUS satellite that they had in their archives. They have more that will do, but unfortunately they want to charge, so I think that channel of information has dried up. Shame - there was a media opportunity just waiting to be grasped there!
What I have managed to gather is at least one image from every day of the mission. I apologise in advance if I repeat myself as I know I've posted the occasional titbit from the following already.
I'll be referring to the Apollo 11 timeline here:history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/Apollo_11i_Timeline.htm
and a good deal of the satellite data are from the BOMEX MSc thesis available here:dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/59623/30119849.pdf?sequence=1
July 16th I've already dealt with at the start of this thread - the day of launch, the broadcast from space with the dying embers of good old Hurricane Bernice nicely visible from the TV broadcast, the photographs, and ESSA satellite data. That in itself should be convincing enough, but you know what people are like.
July 17th I believe I've already covered, but I've joined two sources using my colour highlighting approach to make things easier to see. By this time the astronauts were well on their way to the moon. Image AS11-36-5361:www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/images/print/AS11/36/5361.jpg
was taken after the LM was extracted from its SIV-B housing, but before astronauts entered it for initial inspection on the 18th.
I came across this image from an ATS satellite:i55.tinypic.com/16a2mn8.jpg
from July 17 1969 and compared it with the Apollo image, and also with the same data's ESSA image taken from the BOMEX thesis. Here is the result of comparing all three:
No problems with the matching there.
For July 18th, image AS11-36-5381www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/images/print/AS11/36/5381.jpg
is the last photograph taken before those inside the LM on initial inspection. I took the July 18th image from the BOMEX thesis to see how that compared:
Again, the cloud patterns are distinctive and unmistakable.
For July 19th I chose image AS11-36-5404www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/images/print/AS11/36/5404.jpg
This is the last image on this magazine before close up pictures of the lunar surface start to appear, but the CSM & LM have not yet separated, which would mean the 19th is most likely. It's also nice that it actually has some Apollo hardware in shot.
Comparing this with the BOMEX image is tricky, because only a fraction of the appropriate part of the Caribbean is visible:
It helps to zoom in close to this one, and I believe that the cloud masses I have identified in both images are comparable. A discovery yesterday, however, does allow more coverage.
While searching for satellite images I came across this document:www.nrlmry.navy.mil/forecaster_handbooks/BayOfBengal/Handbook%20for%20Forcasters%20in%20the%20Bay%20of%20Bengal%20Appendix%20C.pdf
It's an appendix to a guide for weather forecasters in the Bay of Bengal which has satellite photos in it to demonstrate weather features.
One page features an image from July 19th, and shows Eastern Africa, Arabia, India, and a substantial chunk of Russia. The time on the image (I assume it is GMT) seems to be 17:55. The nearest Apollo image to that time is AS11-56-5402www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/images/print/AS11/36/5402.jpg
The quality of the ESSA image is poor, but I believe there are sufficient matches with the apollo photograph to allow its use:
July 20th - Now it starts to get interesting. There is a lunar module on its way to, and eventually landing on, the moon, and a CSM orbiting around the moon.
Unfortunately July 20th is missing from the BOMEX images, but the University of Wisconsin did provide images from an ATS satellite from the 20th and 21st.
The first image I looked at is AS11-37-5442www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/images/print/AS11/37/5442.jpg
This image shows earth beyond one of the LM thrusters, and the next image in the magazine shows the Command module in the distance, so it seems reasonable to assume that this image was taken on the 20th, before the landing and either shortly before or just after separation.
Here is the uncropped AST III image with the date clearly marked:i56.tinypic.com/4q60ya.jpg
I'm not sure whether the 155346Z sequence is an indicator of time.
This gif shows the earth from that image compared with the AST image.
Stellarium suggests that the apollo image was taken at around 15:30 GMT
(the time on the screenshot below is GMT+1)
so if the 1554 part of the AST label refers to GMT, they were taken at pretty much the same time, and Neil & Buzz were doing system checks in the LM before separation.
We also have another source of satellite data, this time supporting photographs taken from the CSM whilst in orbit.
The pictures in question are 3 NIMBUS images kindly supplied by the Australian Meteorology Bureau, to whom I am very much indebted (especially if they bill me for their work like they said they might!).i53.tinypic.com/2j1l6c1.jpg
They show Eastern Australia, whith Queensland at the top and Tasmania at the bottom.
Apollo image AS11-44-6551www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/images/print/AS11/44/6551.jpg
was taken from the CSM, and the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal records it as being taken on July 20. It appears in a sequence where the LM is still attached, and shortly afterwards they separate, which helps us date the image nicely.
NIMBUS and apollo data in clear agreement - that's three different weather satellites used so far.
A few orbits later and Collins captures a sequence of images that make a beautiful B&W earthrise covering almost half of the moon's surface:
and it makes a great movie:View My Video
And here you can compare it with the AST image from the 20th and the BOMEX ESSA image (probably taken several hours before the apollo one, which would have been about 22:00 GMT):
July 21st - the day we finally set foot on the moon, as long as you count it in GMT!
We have a couple of definite sources for this, and one possible.
The two definites are the BOMEX ESSA images and also the University of Wisconsin picture from July 21i53.tinypic.com/o5wehk.jpg
There is also an image of Tropical Storm Claudia found on page 287 of this document:docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/098/mwr-098-04-0280.pdf
Claudia developed off Hawaii on the 21st of July but didn't amount to much, and by the 23rd it had disappeared.
So, what Apollo images match these?
shows the Pacific Ocean, and thankfully there are 50Mb TIFFs around of it, and you can get in pretty close.
The hurricane season document linked above states that the Claudia image was taken at 17:37 GMT
Again using Stellarium, it is possible to identify from the location of the terminator that the Apollo image was taken some 12 hours earlier:
This 12 hour gap is quite some time in the lifetime of a tropical storm, but I believe that I have identified common features on the apollo and satellite images:
I am happy for alternative suggestions to be given, as the match is not as exact as I would like, but it is in the right place at the right time.
Once Armstrong & Aldrin had finished on the surface, they ascended back towards the CSM, an event captured in a fabulous earthrise sequence by Collins that I strung together as another animation:Mother and child reunion
One of the images in that sequence is AS11-44-6642www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/a11/AS11-44-6642HR.jpg
The timeline shows that LM stationkeeping began at 21:24 GMT on the 21st, and the Stellarium terminator position would confirm this as roughly the time that the image was taken (again, my screenshots are GMT+1).
and here are the apollo & satellite images combined
If the ATS images do show a timestamp, then 1411 is considerably earlier than this, which would be consistent with the cloud formations in the apollo image being slightly further eastward than the ATS image, and with the ATS image showing the hemisphere in complete daylight.
July 22nd, the astronauts are on their way home, and the first image taken of earth on the way back is this onewww.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/images/print/AS11/38/5684.jpg
We also have BOMEX data, and Figure 2 (page 734) from this article:docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/100/mwr-100-10-0733.pdf
which shows an ATS image from 22nd July
As with the others, there is a clear match between all three:
And finally, there is July 23rd, the day they fell back to earth. BOMEX data is all I have for this, and I've chosen AS11-38-5707 www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/apollo/images/print/AS11/38/5707.jpg
as it is the last clear image in Trans-Earth Coast with the Caribbean in clear view.
A selection of cloud patterns again show that things match up fine:
There are others I would like to have used.
There is the image in this story:libertyyes.homestead.com/Hank-Brandli-25.html
But it is not clear what date the image used is from, or even if it is the actual image referred to in the story.
There is also the continuing story of Tropical Storm Claudia, which is still around on the 22nd, and I believe it is still identifiable on AS11-38-5692:
but again there is room for argument.
Also visible on the images of the pacific should be Hurricane Violet, which really took off after the mission and did some serious damage over China. During Trans-Earth coast it was referred to by Mission Control, and should be somewhere over the philippines.
It would also have been nice to have had some replies from the people who definitely do hold the data: NASA & NOAA, neither of whom seem particularly bothered about answering weird emails from me!
Maybe some other time.
If I get more, I'll add more, in the mean time I'll do another mission. Apollo 17 is calling....