Robert Morningstar

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Style over substance
Icon pseudoscience.svg
Popular pseudosciences
Random examples
Some dare call it
Icon conspiracy.svg
What THEY don't want
you to know!
Sheeple wakers

Robert Morningstar is the editor of the e-zine UFO Digest. He has a degree in psychology from Fordham University, and describes himself as a civilian intelligence analyst and "a specialist in photo interpretation, geometric analysis and computer imaging." He is a hater of NASA, President Obama, and the Clintons.

Lunar and Martian anomaly claims[edit]

In public appearances, Morningstar has often made the claim that NASA is covering up evidence of extraterrestrial intelligences and activities. He is one of several regulars on the radio show Coast to Coast AM who feed the appetite of that show's audience for such ideas. Not all of his claims, however, are credible.

Space Station Luna[edit]

In January 2010, Morningstar published in UFO Digest[1] his interpretation of the Apollo 10 photograph AS10-28-3988.jpg.[2] He claimed that he had discovered an alien space station.

The text accompanying the image in the NASA library is as follows:

Command Module Mylar outside the front window. In preparation for a photographic pass over the planned Apollo 11 landing site, the crew re-oriented the Command Module while over the backside of the Moon. After regaining contact with Earth, John Young mentioned at 118:41:31 "This morning when we were turning around, first time, we had (means 'could see') about — I estimate maybe a foot-and-a-half or more of Mylar with that insulation coating on the back of it. It would appear out in front of our window, and I guess it was from the top hatch which is where that insulation came from in the first place. It Just sort of sat there for a while, and then quietly floated off. But my question is, will this cause us any thermal problems?" The strangely-shaped 'blob' in this image is almost certainly that piece of Mylar, possibly out-of-focus.

Astronaut Young shot two more frames of the mylar insulation (AS10-28-3989, AS10-28-3990.jpg.)

In the course of a lecture delivered at the Secret Space Program conference in San Mateo, California, 28/29 June 2014, Morningstar showed frame #AS10-28-3989 and gave as his estimate of the object's main dimension 166 miles.[note 1]

Crashed spaceship on the Moon[edit]

The "crashed spacecraft"

On Coast to Coast AM 10 December 2013, Morningstar excitedly described an image of the Moon that he said showed a crashed spacecraft (arrowed). He said the image was from Hasselblad Mag#P of the Apollo 12 photoset. In fact it is not — it is one of a stereo pair taken by Apollo 15's pan camera[3]. The photo ID is AS15-P-9625[4] and the other half of the pair is AS15-P-9630[5].

This is not a spacecraft but a long (10km approximately) depression centered at 117.68°E, 18.66°S. The nearest named craters are Diderot and Delporte. Examination of the frame taken by the narrow angle camera of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter[6] shows unequivocally that the feature is cratered to the same extent and density as the surrounding terrain.

"Treasure of the Abyss"[edit]

On 7 November 2006, Morningstar published in UFO Digest[7] an article titled "Treasure of the Abyss: Morningstar Discovers Luminous 'Sky Object' Above Lunar Surface In Apollo 16 Photograph".

The 'Sky Object' he cited is a scanning blemish in the Hasselblad frame AS16-109-17761[8]. The image was shot by LMP Charlie Duke from the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) on the way to Station 1, EVA-1. The blemish is just above the horizon, about two-thirds from the left edge, near the 4th fiducial from left. It does not appear in the Lunar & Planetary Institute version of the image[9], which would have been scanned at a different time.

Morningstar wrote When one studies the photo with a 'photographer's eye,' one can see that in the composition of the photo, the 'Sky Object' appears to be the focal point of the astronaut-photographer's attention nearly in the center of the frame.. That statement is untrue. The LRV was moving, over terrain that was not smooth, in lunar gravity. Under the circumstances it is not credible that Duke could have targeted such a small object — and indeed, it is not in the center of the frame. Oh, and one more thing — it isn't an object at all.

TMA-1: The Martian Artifact[edit]

In October 2006 Morningstar published in UFO Digest the revised and final version of an article titled "TMA-1: The Martian Artifact. A Sign of Intelligent Life on Mars".[10][note 2] The second paragraph is as follows:

On August 9th, 2004, after nearly 5 months of study, I discovered (perhaps "recognized" is a better word) an object that was found and photographed on Mars by the Mars Opportunity Rover on March 25th, 2004. After 5 months of intensive study and scrutiny, the object was found to be an artificially created artifact, carved in relief in Martian stone in The Eagle Crater in the region called Meridiani Planum.

The image that took Morningstar five months to interpret was the "Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)" on 5 April 2004.[11] The image, obtained on Sol 48 by the Opportunity rover, shows remarkably fine examples of "blueberries" — hematite spherules which are of great interest to geologists and geochemists.

The principal focus of Morningstar's five-month study, however, was the prominent light-colored circular feature just to left of center. He wrote:

TMA-1 clearly appears to be an intelligently conceived and designed form.. If so, this alone, of course, would indicate (and prove) the presence or ,more likely, the previous existence of intelligent life on the Red Planet. … I now believe that this artifact, TMA-1, may be a "Time Capsule", or the remnant of a larger one, intended to call attention to the region or, perhaps, to record the circumstances or forces, which caused a cataclysm that destroyed Mars' once Earth-like ecosystem.

One of the Opportunity rover's scientific tools is the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT)[12]. This is a rock grinder that can expose a circular patch of rock 45 mm in diameter and up to 5 mm deep. The infopage explains "Once a fresh surface is exposed, scientists can examine the abraded area in detail using the rover's other science instruments. [This means that] the interior of a rock may be very different from its exterior. That difference is important to scientists as it may reveal how the rock was formed and the environmental conditions in which it was altered. A rock sitting on the surface of Mars may become covered with dust and will weather, or change in chemical composition from contact with the atmosphere."

The circular patch that Morningstar calls TMA-1 is 45 mm in diameter.

The "hangars" in Mare Imbrium[edit]

In April 2014 the industrious Mr. Morningstar web-published an article[13] claiming that a cluster of little hills in Mare Imbrium are actually domed hangars for storage of alien flying machines. The width of this feature is approximately 7 km.

He also presented this fantasy on Far Out Radio, 6 May 2014 and 8 May 2014. After a listener challenged his interpretation, he posted an update of the image he was promoting, naming seven of the craters. He achieved some sort of all-time record by getting all seven names wrong. In addition, the image was from the Apollo 17 mapping camera[14], not Lunar Orbiter as Morningstar evidently thinks. Oh, and he mis-spelled "hangar"

[Insert icon of Homer Simpson going "D'Oh!"]

The "Moon racer"[edit]

The imaginative Mr. Morningstar likes to include this frame in his Powerpoint™ presentations at woo conferences. It's an "enhancement" of a frame from the Apollo 16 on-board 16mm film camera — part of a sequence shot just after John Young and Charlie Duke got back in the Command Module after their stay on the lunar surface. It's an internal reflection off the CM window — most likely of the navigation sextant housing, which is quite a bright structure. The shot can be seen in this video, from 28:49 to 28:56.

To Morningstar, it's a UFO flying across the Moon, perhaps chasing Apollo 16. Making himself all the more ridiculous, the psychologist and self-proclaimed photography expert adds that his superior analytic skills allowed him to detect signs that NASA itself found this shot particularly interesting. When he's lecturing before his audiences of the faithful, he tells them that the very last frame of that sequence was edited by slashing across the film mid-frame instead of between frames. This, he maintains, shows that some film editor was ordered to cut the most revealing part of the shot, and protested by botching the edit. Anyone with any familiarity with 16mm film editing knows that a mid-frame cut is impossible because there's only one pair of sprocket holes per frame. It is infinitely more probable that what the self-proclaimed photography expert is seeing is the edge of a strip of scotch tape used to make the join between sequences. D'oh!!!

When interviewed by Kerry Cassidy on 21 January 2015[15] Morningstar had a different version of the edit. He said that he saw two complete frames overlapping at the join. In the real world as opposed to Morningstar's fantasy world, such a botch would practically guarantee that the film would not run through any kind of projector or editor.

"Big Ben on the Moon"[edit]

In March 2015 the persistent Mr. Morningstar promoted another of his "great discoveries"—this one an artifact he called "Big Ben on the Moon." He proclaimed that he had identified a tower on the Moon, seen in frame 2366, Magazine M, Apollo 17. He was so interested in this that he displayed it on his computer monitor and took a snapshot with a digital camera, then posted the result on his Facebook page. He called it "Big Ben" because it reminded him of the famous London landmark. If it was really a tower it would be 10 miles high.

Morningstar was mistaken about the identity of this image. It is from Apollo 17, but not Hasselblad Magazine M. Instead it's a preliminary, over-brightened version of frame 2366 from the mapping camera. This is not a tower but some lint in the scanner. In the next frame in sequence, the lint has wandered off to the right, completely detached from the Moon.

For reference, here is a corrected version of the original image, in which scanner contamination has been removed and brightness set correctly.

Commenting on his blog, astronomer Stuart Robbins wrote "To put it as succinctly and briefly as I can, he has introduced a substantial amount of completely unnecessary artifacts into the image that the idea that he thinks this is a proper way to analyze an image makes me question every single other claim he might ever make in the future."[16]

The Crystal City on the Moon[edit]

In 2018 the inventive Mr. Morningstar presented this image of what he called "A Crystal City on the Moon." He captioned it Apollo Photo of "Crystal City" ruins on the Moon. Discovered by Robert Morningstar in 2007. In fact, this is not an Apollo photo, it does not depict a city of any kind, Morningstar did not discover it, and it was not released until October 2009.

The image is, in fact, one slice of a strip returned by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, depicting landslips down the rim of crater Marius. The strip was released by Arizona State University, where all LRO images are processed.

To achieve the deception, Morningstar simply flipped the image vertically. Richard Hoagland was probably the original "discoverer."

Morningstar's "Crystal City" compared with an inversion of the LRO image

Apollo voice recording claim[edit]

It is part of Morningstar's standard schtick[17] to claim that the Apollo astronauts were unaware that their conversations were recorded while they were out of radio contact with Houston Mission Control Center (MCC) behind the Moon.

It is a fact that these recordings were made. The reason was that NASA engineers wanted to be sure they would have some information in the event that an accident behind the Moon led to the death or incapacity of the crew. The Data Storage Equipment (DSE in the Command Module, DSEA in the Lunar Module) was an audio cassette capable of recording digital data as well as voice.[note 3] It was normally controlled by MCC but could be rewound and/or switched on or off by the crew. After every lunar orbit, the DSE was dumped to ground at high speed, then rewound.

Throughout Apollo Flight Plans the instruction DUMP DSE can be clearly seen as a reminder to ground controllers. Since it is a known fact that the astronauts were not blind, and another known fact that they were technically competent individuals who showed an interest in the systems on which their lives depended, it is not credible that they somehow did not notice this fact. Page 1-15 of the Apollo 11 Flight Plan even features a 7-point list specifying how the DSE is to be used.

In addition, a set of three switches on the CM instrument panel (panel C) were clearly labeled TAPE RECORDER. The LM instrument panel (Panel 12) also had controls labeled RECORDER ON/OFF.

Beyond these technical facts, simple logic tells us that they had to be aware of this. Suppose some fatal accident occurred to the Command Module Pilot while he was alone in lunar orbit. He had to know he was being recorded so that he knew it was worth saying something about it other than just Aaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhhhhh.[note 4]

Robert Morningstar is so catastrophically wrong about this that it's amazing he still gets invited to woo conferences and radio shows.

JFK Jr. murder claim[edit]

Morningstar concurs with Republican dirty trickster and convicted liar[18] Roger Stone that John Kennedy Jr. was murdered by Hillary Clinton because he was planning to become her rival for the Senate seat of New York.[19]

Morningstar, a licensed private pilot himself, has stated that Clinton disabled the instruments of Kennedy's Saratoga plane, causing it to crash into the sea off Martha's Vineyard. On 14 April 2016 he posted this on Facebook:

I proved this to the NTSB in 2003, and his accident report file was subsequently changed from "Pilot Error" to "spatial disorientation" through my intercession with the Vice Chairman of the NTSB, General Rosenker.

There are several somewhat obvious difficulties with this story, among which are:

  • The NTSB final report[20] makes no mention of this, saying instead Examination of the airframe, systems, avionics, and engine did not reveal any evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction. Therefore Morningstar can not have "proved" the allegation.
  • Kennedy was licensed for VFR (Visual Flight Rules) only, and therefore by definition would not normally be dependent on instruments. In the actual circumstances, with no visible horizon because of haze, he was, but a would-be saboteur could not possibly have had advance knowledge of that fact.
  • The NTSB report contains much altitude data from ATC Vineyard, which can only have come from a functioning encoding altimeter in the aircraft.
  • Neither Roger Stone or Morningstar has presented any actual evidence of Mrs. Clinton's involvement. A half-baked speculative motive for the crime is not exactly good enough.

Deliberate mis-attribution of photographs[edit]

On 26 January 2016, on his Facebook page, Morningstar posted this:

Islam is certainly NOT a "religion of peace" as Obama professes and pontificates. Islam is a religion of pieces of human beings, left scattered, with many other victims maimed across the world in the Name of Allah, the merciless and despicable, a demonic deity who demands and condones subhuman barbarity and depravity such as this.

By "this" he referred to a photograph showing a decapitated young woman in stark, horrific detail. She's dressed in a black bra and figure-hugging denim trousers. Her severed head lies about a foot from her body, and she is lying in a lake of blood.

Morningstar clearly intended his readers to believe that the photograph depicted an act of Islamic extremism. However, the photograph was shot in the village of Angelito Agreste, Pernambuco, Brazil. The victim was Patricia Pereira da Silva, a Brazilian who was killed by her jealous boyfriend, Renato Guilherme Silva, after he caught her posting photos to another man on WhatsApp.[21]

Also in 2016, Morningstar re-posted a news photograph of a protest by taxi drivers against Uber, alongside text labelling it as a popular demonstration against Islam.

On 10 August 2018, Morningstar re-posted an article from "Our Guy"[22] repeating an allegation by a local radio station that the FBI had just raided the Little Rock offices of the Clinton Foundation. The article was accompanied by a photograph, captioned "The FBI investigates the Clinton Foundation. (Reuters photo)." In fact, the image was from the 2015 FIFA scandal. It actually shows FBI agents carrying document boxes from the offices of Imagina in Florida. Other allegations in the Our Guy piece ("Real News, Real Truth") were false.

On 6 November 2018, as a migrant "caravan" was proceding toward the Mexico/US frontier, Morningstar posted three pictures of wounded Mexican police officers, including one covered in blood. The caption read "This is what the migrant caravan did to Mexican Police Officers." Morningstar added this text:

[T]he democrats favorite group of people want to leave their sh*thole and turn our country into one too. Democrats have already been moving it in that direction here. Why not more? Right?

The gruesome images in fact depicted the aftermath of student riots in Michoacan in October 2012.[23]

Las Vegas massacre 1 October 2017[edit]

On 8 October 2017, seven days after a deranged sniper rained gunfire on a concert crowd, killing 58 and wounding 489, Robert Morningstar web-published a 3,000 word essay attempting to make a case for a second gunman at the Mandalay Bay hotel.[24]

Morningstar severely undermined his own credibility by getting the name of the assailant wrong. Throughout his essay he wrote of "Steven Pollack" whereas the correct name is Stephen Paddock.[note 5]

The heart of his case is that gunfire of two different sounds can be heard on amateur video recordings. But since Paddock had 22 rifles at his disposal, two of which were mounted on bipods, it is not at all unlikely that he used more than one weapon during the ten minute fusillade.

Morningstar's conjecture is that a second gunman was sited on the balcony over the hotel entrance, but there is no evidence (such as shell casings) of anybody being on that balcony. Moreover, it is not a good vantage point since the stage and the bleachers at the concert venue obstruct the view of most of the audience from that angle. has examined the evidence for a second gunman and found it to be FALSE.[25]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. Based on the known field of view (~47°) a 166-mile object would have to be 2,338 miles away to appear as the mylar does in that frame.
  2. Morningstar cited The Brookings Report (although he got the title wrong) as prohibiting NASA from disclosing evidence of extraterrestrial life
  3. The manufacturer was Leach Corporation
  4. The transcripts of the DSE tapes are in the public domain, and were thoroughly discussed on Above Top Secret in 2009.
  5. When he republished this text as an article in UFO Digest, he partly corrected the name to "Steven Paddock."


  1. "The Sentinel" UFO Digest 1 January 2010
  2. AS10-28-3988.jpg in NASA image library
  3. Itak pan camera details
  4. AS15-P-9625 in the Lunar & Planetary Institute library
  5. AS15-P-9630 in the Lunar & Planetary Institute library
  6. Permalink to the LROC NAC strip of the dune feature
  7. "Treasure of the Abyss" UFO Digest 7 November 2006
  8. AS16-109-17761 in the NASA photo library
  9. AS16-109-17761 in the Lunar & Planetary Institute library
  10. "TMA-1: The Martian Artifact" from UFO Digest.
  11. "A Berry Bowl of Martian Spherules" APOD 5 April 2004
  12. Rock Abrasion Tool technical info page
  13. Robert Morningstar discovers double domed hangers and high towers... on the Moon! UFO Digest, 27 April 2014
  14. A17 Mapping Camera frame #AS17-M-2444
  15. "Project Camelot: Robert Morningstar re Moon, Mars and Kennedy Assassination", Youtube
  16. A Piece of Lint Becomes a 10-Mile High Tower on the Moon --Exposing pseudoastronomy, 23 September 2015
  17. e.g. on Darkness Radio 19 June 2014
  18. Trump ally Roger Stone convicted of lying to Congress BBC news, 15 November 2019
  19. Trump proxy Roger Stone to publish book alleging the Clintons murdered John F. Kennedy Jr. to jump-start Hillary’s rise to the White House --Salon Magazine, 13 April 2016
  20. The NTSB final report
  21. Homem diz que decapitou namorada por "acesso de ódio" durante briga (Man says he decapitated his girlfriend in a "fit of hate" during a fight.) Correio do Brazil, 24 March 2015
  22. Did The FBI Just Serve Warrants On the Clinton Foundation? It’s Happening --Our Guy, 10 August 2018
  23. NOT REAL NEWS: Photos not of officers injured by migrants AP, 24 October 2018
  24. Las Vegas Videos Capture Images & Sounds of 2nd Shooter on Low Level of Mandalay Bay Hotel --© Robert Morningstar, 8 October 2017
  25. Did a Second Gunman Shoot From the Fourth Floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel? --snopes, undated