November 28th, 2012
07:06 PM ET

U.S. had plans to nuke the moon

By Brian Todd and Dugald McConnell

You could easily skip by it in an archive search: a project titled "A Study of Lunar Research Flights." Its nickname is even more low-brow: "Project A-119."

But the reality was much more explosive.

It was a top-secret plan, developed by the U.S. Air Force, to look at the possibility of detonating a nuclear device on the moon.

It was hatched in 1958 - a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a nuclear arms race that would last decades and drive the two superpowers to the verge of nuclear war. The Soviets had also just launched Sputnik 1, the world's first satellite. The U.S. was falling behind in the space race, and needed a big splash.

"People were worried very much by (first human in space Soviet cosmonaut Yuri) Gagarin and Sputnik and the very great accomplishments of the Soviet Union in those days, and in comparison, the United States was feared to be looking puny. So this was a concept to sort of reassure people that the United States could maintain a mutually-assured deterrence, and therefore avoid any huge conflagration on the Earth," said physicist Leonard Reiffel, who led the project.

Reiffel, now 85, spoke to CNN at his home in Chicago. A 1959 report Reiffel wrote on the project, declassified many years ago, was obtained online by CNN.

According to Reiffel's report, "The motivation for such a detonation is clearly threefold: scientific, military and political."

The military considerations were frightening. The report said a nuclear detonation on the moon could yield information "...concerning the capability of nuclear weapons for space warfare." Reiffel said that in military circles at the time, there was "discussion of the moon as military high ground."

That included talk of having nuclear launch sites on the moon, he said. The thinking, according to Reiffel, was that if the Soviets hit the United States with nuclear weapons first and wiped out the U.S. ability to strike back, the U.S. could launch warheads from the moon.

"These are horrendous concepts," Reiffel said, "and they are hopefully going to remain in the realm of science fiction for the rest of eternity."

The basic plan, Reiffel explained, was for an intercontinental ballistic missile to be launched from an undisclosed location, travel some 240,000 miles to the moon, and detonate on impact. Various news reports since 1958 have said project leaders considered using an atom bomb the same size as "Little Boy," the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, near the end of World War II.

Reiffel, who was cited for that information in those reports, now says he wasn't in on those discussions.

Contrary to some reports, Reiffel told CNN, the device would not have "blown up" the moon. "Absolutely not. It would have been microscopic, so to speak. It would have been, I think, essentially invisible from the Earth, even with a good telescope."

Reiffel had some brilliant minds on his team. One of them was an up-and-coming graduate student named Carl Sagan. Sagan went on to become one of the world's most renowned astronomers, creating the book and popular TV series "Cosmos."

But after working on the moon program, Reiffel said, Sagan violated security when he mentioned the still-classified project on a job application. "He did formally break the classification status of the project", Reiffel said of Sagan, who subsequently died in 1996.

Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, told CNN she's not sure if Sagan ever broke the classification, but if he did, she said, it wasn't intentional. "I can't imagine he would have done that knowingly," Druyan said.

By 1959, Project A-119 was drawing more concern than excitement.

"We didn't want to clutter up the natural radioactivities of the moon with additional bits of radioactivity from the Earth," Reiffel said. The project was abandoned.

Project planners also weren't sure of the reliability of the weapons, and feared the public backlash in the U.S. would be significant," Reiffel said.

"It disappeared in the files of the Pentagon", he said of the project. "They come up with what I believe was the right answer."

Contacted by CNN, the Air Force would not comment on Project A-119.


Filed under: Security Brief
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  19. Jack

    How dumb is the average America leader got to be to think they could blow the moon up and it wont have no effect of the planet earth lol

    December 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  20. James Henery

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  26. King Edward

    If a nuke is detonated on the moon it might make the aliens inside it mad and they could retaliate with a bata bomb, the most powerfull bomb in the universe .One of the aliens told me they have such a bomb so I would suggest not to do it

    December 3, 2012 at 2:39 am | Reply
  27. LordJesus

    US is like a dog that has to pee on every , fire hydrant

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    December 3, 2012 at 12:48 am | Reply
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    December 2, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  29. THARUN

    Good idea to destroy the earth with the help of its neighbour......

    December 2, 2012 at 8:47 am | Reply
  30. gaggedinusa

    men are scary.

    December 1, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Reply
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    December 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Reply
  32. ramstein

    These years russians planing to paint the moon in red.

    December 1, 2012 at 7:00 am | Reply
  33. Frank

    Does anyone else wonder about the mentality of people in high places who would consider nuking the moon because of embarassment over another country beating us to the punch launching a basket ball size orb into space? So nuke the moon, really?

    November 30, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Reply
    • That's How It Went Down

      Considering Sputnik was the emptied-out casing of an intercontinental ballistic missile and a clear shot across America's bow about the level of Soviet technology (hey, America, we do this thing in peace, but isn't ti cool that we can do it in a missile? Imagine if this had explosives instead of a radio in it...), I actually don't find the response of wanting to send a nuke into space all that unreasonable.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  34. Tom

    Seems this is a subliminal in your face paid for political announcement courtesy of Uncle Sam acknowledging just how far down the road they can kick the financial tsunami can we're facing.

    What you don't know won't hurt you, once the baby boomers are all dead then we'll leak out to the then generation what coulda shoulda woulda been.

    Unbelievable, yet so true.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  35. Jacob

    I feel like I'm reading the onion. However, The study of radioactive effects in the environment of space would be important to a 1950's America believing that by the year 2000 we would be fighting the soviets in space using laser to lay claim to the moon. Is it a little extreme, yes but the benefits to future space warfare endeavors could prove useful making this plan whenever put into context of the time not as crazy as it is to a 2012 America.

    For further clarification i do not in any way support nuking the moon (unless it has WMDs)

    November 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  36. ivan

    Its sad, so many people want to criticize our country for the bad it has done. The truth is, every country has a horrible past. The only reason why the US seems worse is because its a young nation and things are more recent as opposed to other countries who have done just as much in 1k years or so. Yes this country has done bad things to itself and others. But we are no different than other nations who have a past. If you don't like it or the US then leave and don't come. I'm tired of hearing people complaining about this country. Atleast you have the freedom to speak your mind here.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:46 am | Reply
    • PolarBear

      Just ignore them. I'm an immigrant and I'm proud of this great country.
      US is the first democracy, the first of it's kind in technological advancement and thinking, the first of it's kind which lets people who enjoy the prosperity she gives, and criticize her.

      I'm proud of the United States any given day.

      PolarBear

      November 30, 2012 at 9:00 am | Reply
      • digitalclips

        The USA was the first Democracy? Really?

        November 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
      • Paul

        I believe the Greeks was were the whole democracy thing started but what do I know...

        November 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
      • Quag

        And to the republic...for which it stands...
        The US is a republic. A democratically elected republic.

        December 1, 2012 at 3:45 am |
      • The Eternal Satyr

        Yeah, We the Sheeple "democratically" elect the politicians and then the lobbyists take over and hijack the sheeple's agenda and replace it with their own. Great system, huh?

        December 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
      • The Eternal Satyr

        You're an immigrant because your native country was even crappier than the US. By comparison the US is less crappy but still pretty crappy. Look at the stats, Polar Bear. Americans (as well as all other Earthlings) have nothing to be proud of. Savvy?

        December 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • Ivan The Terrible

        Everything the usa had or has was invented by Europeans.From Television to telephones from cars to jet engines from X rays to penecillin Jesus,.They even invented the usa lol

        December 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  37. Argus

    Operation Argus

    November 30, 2012 at 8:21 am | Reply
  38. livinginadreamystate

    Wow nuking the moon! The government is just full of things they should cover up. I have been following this weirdness with particular interest. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-886372 The world + crazy govt = hell in a hand basket...

    November 30, 2012 at 7:26 am | Reply
    • That's How It Went Down

      Well, they didn't actually do it and it could have yielded a good amount of valid scientific data. Why should they be ashamed of it and cover it up?

      November 30, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  39. JB

    ... I'm guessing a colombia-like incident would have had much further-reaching consequences?

    November 30, 2012 at 7:16 am | Reply
  40. eville11

    should have nuked alot of places in the 50's, but we missed the chance....

    November 30, 2012 at 6:48 am | Reply
    • wayne

      Yea China would have been a good start!!!

      December 3, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply
  41. Say it ain't so

    This is really disgusting. I have no respect for the U.S.A, damn shame of a country.

    November 30, 2012 at 4:40 am | Reply
    • Coexist

      Yes we have a dark past and to some degree, a little darkness still today. From slavery, to countless civil rights violations, to Hiroshima, and to making a recipe to nuke the moon. Some of it is shameful but we have grown and evolved from most of it and I'll rather be here than that crap hole you are from. God bless the USA. Good or bad, still the greatest and most resilient nation on earth. You can't touch that.

      November 30, 2012 at 5:58 am | Reply
      • JB

        Man, you should read about the Cambodian incursions during the Viet Nam war. That will absolutely make you throw up. We dropped more bombs on the Eastern part of Cambodia (CAMBODIA!) than we did in all of WW2 combined. They don't really teach that so much in our history classes growing up.

        November 30, 2012 at 7:18 am |
      • rcheck

        A little darkness today you say? OMG open your eyes people. It isn't good.

        November 30, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Pacsman72

      Its also a little deranged to assume "all" people in the USA are crazy because of a few unelected war mongering crazies...

      November 30, 2012 at 7:23 am | Reply
    • Paul

      Yeah we suck as a country. We only invented just about everything. Electricity, lightbulb, affordable cars, the airplane, TV, microwave, computers, the Internet, google, the iPhone and iPad, social media. Yeah what a horrible country.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Reply
      • josh

        Ha, "We" America did no such thing, this everything came from immigrated ideas of people whom America stole inventions from through patents. It certainly wasn't a we scenario it was a few individuals very few such as Nikola Tesla, Viktor Schauberger and others from all over the world most other names that you probably think did something have had no positive effect they are just thieves that sold to the highest bidder. America now replicates and simply miniaturizes. Patriotism is your new false religion.

        November 30, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • listenin2u

      Our US history has too many moral flaws that deserve the word "disgusting" - genocide of native peoples, slavery & its after-effects, Tuskegee Syphilis "Experiments", My Lai, Cambodia, Abu Graib, massive poverty, others ... but I don't think that this moon research program qualifies as one more. If we believe the info in the article from the scientist, a significant political-military aim was deterrence of any Soviet inclinations toward initiating nuclear war - seems to me like the US having the ability to launch retaliatory strikes from the moon, even as we are being destroyed here on this continent, would be a strong deterrent. Good luck to any country trying to defend against super-accelerating incoming rockets coming all the way from the moon.

      December 1, 2012 at 1:31 am | Reply
    • chris

      you people act like one nuke will do more damage than a asteriod that have repeatedly struck the moon for thousdands of years, and for all you worried about radiaton..space is full of it..stop crying people not a big deal..the sun gives off billions more radition than one nuclear bomb will

      December 4, 2012 at 2:27 am | Reply
  42. Thomas

    Apparently there's a short film being made about it: https://www.facebook.com/NukeTheMoonTheFilm

    November 30, 2012 at 3:57 am | Reply
  43. vlad

    If God wanted us to nuke the Moon, he would have placed Saddam's chemical weapons on it.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:52 am | Reply
  44. tsk

    US is so irresponsible, its bad enough they nuked Marshall islands over 60 times knowing people inhabited the islands. Yet, they did it so they could understand the radioactive effects to people.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:42 am | Reply
    • vlad

      That was part of the Marshall Plan.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:53 am | Reply
  45. Wilburn Brooks

    Idiots Nuke the moon...Wow!!!! There really isn't anythijg to say about this

    November 30, 2012 at 2:19 am | Reply
  46. Billy

    Never say never.

    I think this option had a real shot under "W"....I can just see him saying "is this really possible? let's do it right now!"

    The man wanted to fire a missile at a hurricane afterall.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
  47. dou44

    From Red White and Blow: "This only confirms that this country's been batsh!t for decades. The world's biggest trailer park with nuclear capability – outstanding!" Perfect description of the collective mentality of the USA.

    November 30, 2012 at 1:04 am | Reply
  48. 28Mamerican

    This is seriously old news. We did a bunch of really really dumb things luckily this is one we decided not to do. Kind of funny though that this makes cnn front page now. Makes you wonder what agenda cnn is trying to push by bringing this up now considering it has been known for years. Clearly there is a point to it even if it is not totally obvious at first look.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:16 am | Reply
  49. Red, White and Blow

    This only confirms that this country's been batsh!t for decades. The world's biggest trailer park with nuclear capability – outstanding!

    November 29, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
    • Bob the Saab

      Obviously we didn't do it.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
      • Say it ain't so

        it's the thought that counts

        November 30, 2012 at 4:37 am |
  50. nitwit

    cant post

    November 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  51. strechmarkstomach

    Send the benners to the moon!

    November 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  52. Ben

    What else is in those archives we skipped on by? And what was prevented from entering?

    November 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Reply
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  55. josh rogen

    you're talking 60 years ago...who cares

    November 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Reply
    • josh rogen

      I just realized that most of you are under 30 and never heard of this before

      November 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Reply
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  59. ChulkChes

    I always thought re-directing an small asteroid to crash into the center of your enemy's country be a better strategy then launching a nuclear weapon. If you could keep it a secret.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Reply
    • McGee Boobs

      Genius. You should write a book about that very premise.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Reply
    • Andrew

      That would be clever. I was thinking detonating a nuke over the country and knocking out all their electronics with the EMP was dangerous but a meteor could become potentially a invisible strike too late to determine who was the aggressor. Only problem is if the rock is too big you could take out a good portion of the planet.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Reply
    • vlad

      This is definitely doable. All you need is to set up a small station on, say, Moon or Mars, have them chip off the right-sized piece from the surface, attach some jet engines, give it enough fuel (also imported from Earth) – and send this piece down to Earth, hoping it will land somewhere near Russia.

      Oh yeah, before launching,make sure the Russkies haven't discovered the concept of a telescope to see what you are doing.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:32 am | Reply
  60. sventhet

    Blow up the moon? It would be raining green cheese:)

    November 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  61. wolff

    the moon is a alien base kind of like the death star in star wars

    November 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  62. Bill

    "Sir we have a nuclear detonation on the moon."

    "Wait....what?"

    November 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  63. Reef

    We are earthlings, let's blow up earth things!

    November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  64. Will

    Here lies a real question.. Why is this news?

    November 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Reply
    • piranha

      I did not win the power ball lottery that's why.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  65. Anonymous

    Sick.... When I see what kind of low life is walking around, I only feel sorry why their parents have not used condom and spared this beautiful planet from their mindless idiotic ideas.....

    November 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  66. jvance

    I have this bizarre nostalgia for growing up in the 1950s. Dad was at the plant, mom was in the kitchen and God was in his heaven.
    Of course, I was a little white boy who didn't notice that black men were always picking up the garbage but never in the grocery store. And I had no idea what my mom was talking about when she quit her part-time job because the boss wanted her to be "nice to him". There was a father down the street who always took his son with him when he got in the car drunk because the police were less likely to arrest him in front of his little boy – seemed to me like pretty good thinking for a drunkard.
    As far as H-bombs, we had more than the Russians as well as better planes and rockets so no problem there. Besides, there were plenty of boxes of pork and beans in the civil defense shelter in the bank basement.
    But you know, I almost miss the USSR. We kind of had this mutual understanding. We wanted to make them into good little God-fearing capitolists and they wanted us to be good little atheistic communists but I never got the feeling that we really wanted to destroy each other, just an unconditional surrender.
    The enemies we have now don't feel that way at all, they don't want conversion or capitulation, they want anniliation and total elimination. I still think we have the upper hand militarily and morally, but I don't think we'll ever see a surrender. Maybe the Ruskies weren't so bad after all.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • The Eternal Satyr

      That's just the evolution of the post-industrial Common Enemy.

      During the Cold War it was the Pinko Commies who were, turns out, completely harmless; however, it did perpetuate the artificial need for the Military-Industrial Complex we were warned about.

      Now it's the Terrorist who wants to chop off all our heads; however, they seem to be a threat only to themselves and each other and not to the White Devil we think they think we are (which is just fine with me).

      Next it will be the ETs who will come to destroy our planet. (Unless we beat them to it, that is.) [see: Lockheed Skunkworks; see also http://www.thedisclosureproject.org

      After that, who knows what the M-IC will dream up to perpetuate itself? A hyper-dimensional enemy perhaps? And then maybe God and the Debbil themselves?

      November 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  67. Mr. Know it

    Nuking the moon is so 50's! But yet it sounds like something George w. Bush would come up with. We have to fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here! Mission accomplished!

    November 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Reply
    • Right on Left

      Thanks for shoehorning G. W. into this discussion. Though completely irrelevant to this article, it's nevertheless important to insert personal feelings about G. W. or President Obama or both into all comments sections in all news blogs.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Reply
      • The Eternal Satyr

        Wasn't W planning on searching for those pesky WMDs on the moon at one point?

        November 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
      • Mr. Know it

        Well when I think about nuking the moon, George W comes to mind that's all. Just imagine the discussion between bush and chenney when they decide to send a nuke to the moon.

        November 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • William

      Democrats need to stop living in the past.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:33 am | Reply
  68. Anonymous

    "The Fog of War" an interview with former Defense Secretary Donald McNamara, circa 2003:

    "At the time, we had a 17 to 1 strategic advantage in nuclear numbers. We'd done 10 times as many tests as they had. We were certain we could maintain that advantage if we limited the tests. The Chiefs we're all opposed. They said, "The Soviets will cheat." I said, "How will they cheat?" You won't believe this, but they said, "They'll test them behind the moon." I said, "You're out of your minds." I said, "That's absurd.""

    I worked with a guy back in the '90's who said he worked as a technician at White Sands. He told me that the U.S. had exploded a nuke on the dark side of the moon.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  69. JEscaler

    You need to see the moon in the right time, in the right place... and in 1959 had few telescopes.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Reply
  70. jeffision

    War, especially nuke war, is the product of psychosis.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  71. Valkyrie

    Actually, the main concern about detonating a nuke on the moon is the radioactive cloud of moon dust it would create. This would pose no harm to life on Earth, but it could pose danger to satellites orbiting Earth.

    The most risk this project would create was probably the launch itself. Imagine at that time in history if the Soviets observed a missile arching over... It could trigger a nuclear war! That would be risk enough to cancel the project.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  72. The Eternal Satyr

    It could be that the ETs who have (theoretically) been directing the government/military since forever prevented them from doing this because they won't tolerate nukes beyond Earth's atmosphere.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  73. Timmy B

    Human beings are dangerous creatures.!.....One day human overreach will be the end of humanity...A movie script come to life if you will.
    This probably explains why we haven't been back to the moon

    November 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  74. Kal-el

    They did end up sending bombs just not nuclear bombs. Do your research when it detonated the moon rang like a bell for minutes and the rocks they studied from the moon are the same metals we use on our space shuttles and such. There is so much going on that the Gov will never tell us the truth.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • Laimbrane

      Thank you, Superman.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  75. Krishna

    For starters, I don't know if I should believe this story. Second, If it were true, but people who were planning didn't have any idea what the consequences were.

    Without the moon, we (earth) wouldn't have seasons. Without seasons – can you think it would support human existence?

    November 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Reply
    • jj

      The tilt of the earth on its axis relative to the sun provides us with seasons.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Reply
      • RJ

        The Moon helps maintain that "tilt". Without the Moon, the Earth would begin to wobble on its axis.

        November 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Galileo, grandson of Ulysses

      Point 1) The moon is a quarter the size of the Earth. A modern nuke wouldn't dent it, much less a weak 1950's one. No one was going to "blow up" the moon. They were going to drop a bomb on it. The same way we've dropped literally HUNDREDS on Earth over the past half century and the Earth is still going along just fine.

      Point 2) The moon is NOT why we have seasons. That is primarily due to the angle of the axial tilt with relation to incoming solar rays. The moon has effects on tides, possibly geologic/volcanic activity, animal cycles, etc, but NOT on seasons.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Reply
      • vlad

        So, what you are saying is that as long as you have your four seasons, you don't give a damn about the plight of surfers?

        Krishna is right: it is scary how ignorant some people are, Krishna himself being a perfect example.

        November 30, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • tmonk11

      The moon does not cause seasons, i wonder what 1940's text book you are reading. The moon causes the tides and helps balance day and night. Do some research then come try again.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
      • The Eternal Satyr

        Wait! The Moon "balances day and night"? How does it accomplish this?

        November 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
      • vlad

        1940s?! Don't you mean 1490s?

        November 30, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Laimbrane

      I don't know if I can facepalm any faster or harder to this than I did. In retrospect, I hope you're joking.

      a) it would take over a trillion nuclear missiles, detonated inside the core of the moon, to blow it up. They were launching one. It would have a much less of an effect on the moon than, say, someone throwing a pea at you.
      b) The moon has absolutely no effect on the seasons – the position of the earth and the tilt of its axis relative to the sun does.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Reply
      • RJG

        To say the moon has "absolutely no effect" is not true. Without the moon, the inclination of earth’s axis would wobble over long periods of time from nearly 0 [degrees] to 85 [degrees]. Meaning that there would be no steady tilt of about 23.4 degrees and thus severely effect the seasons.

        November 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Valkyrie

      Actually, in a way, Krishna is partly correct.

      Many cultures around the world judge the arrival of seasons by observing cycles of the moon. Of course, there is no causal relationship of moon to season change; but the cycles of the moon are in fact a way of keeping time, the arrival and passing of months (aka "moon cycles"), and when to expect and prepare for seasonal change (e.g., when to go out and plant or harvest crops, etc.).

      November 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
      • Hot Puddles

        Meh. That's a labeling issue, not a real world one. For all practical purposes, the natural effects of the seasons would happen no matter what you called them or how you demarcated them.

        November 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • myth

      This story is bogus. The moon is a myth, we all know that.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Reply
    • J

      You do realize the moon is drifting away from earth...right? Sooner or later it will be gone all together.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Reply
  76. B

    Ir sounds like more of the Great Military minds at work, as always, trying to dream-up endless justification for their job security.. Gotta keep that -Military Industrial Complex- going...to the exclusion of everything else.. Right?

    Cut the Military budget back to realistic proportions and maybe we will have funds to build-up the country where it should be!

    November 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  77. trigtwit palin... America's favorite tard baby

    Blooorrkk... pppfffhhtttsstttffuffeee baasyy !! Glorp.

    *drool*

    November 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  78. Booger

    Yeah I think you could have seen a nuke go off with a telescope. But then again if there's no atmosphere would there still be a giant fireball?

    November 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      A modest telescope would show a nuclear level explosion if it occurred where the sun wasn't shining. In full sunshine? perhaps at the megaton level. See the Astronomy Picture of the Day for 2001 December 8. Those impacts by meteors of the Leonid and other meteor showers have been a concern of NASA for years. Google and

      November 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Reply
      • Bob

        Well, apparently the less than and greater than symbols keep whatever they bracket from showing. There must be some no HTML rule. I should have said Google (NASA Leonid strikes) and (NASA Marshall Lunar Impacts).

        November 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  79. Daniel

    This would make a good movie, but in the movie, it really happened.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  80. djhm81

    Reblogged this on DJHMcDonald and commented:
    Glad this never happened. I think they downplay the consequences of what this would have brought. IE: We would not have been able to see a nuclear explosion on the moon, even with a telescope? One can see hundred of craters with binoculars, let alone a telescope.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
    • Hot Puddles

      The question here is not if you'd see the aftermath of the explosion (e.g., the crater), but would you see the explosion itself?

      And since a LOT of the visual of the explosion on Earth is due to the environment–water in the atmosphere vaporizing, ash from burning debris, other forms of condensation or combustion evidence, the oxygen in the air itself burning–there is some question of what, if anything, would be seen during a nuclear blast on the moon with no debris to burn, no oxygen to burn, no water to vaporize, etc. Some people thought there'd be a quick flash and then a small crater, more like blowing quickly into a thin layer of flour spread on your counter top than a giant mushroom cloud of fire and ash, which wouldn't happen there.

      Plus, the smallest crater you can see on the moon through binoculars is still several kilometers in diameter. Several miles really. And on Earth nukes are actually detonated well ABOVE their target because the concussive force of the air blowing outward is FAR more destructive than making the nuke hit the actual ground. "Ground Zero" for Hiroshima was actually 600 m–about 1900 feet–above the city. On the moon, a nuke with no air to convey they blast might not make that big a crater hitting the surface directly. One far less than several miles across anyway.

      So, there is a very good chance that without very powerful telescopes focused on the exact right place at the exact right time...you might not see anything happen. You'd likely just map a new, very small crater where one wasn't before. That is what is meant by not seeing the blast from Earth.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
      • djhm81

        I haven't gone back and read what I posted, but I appreciate the reply. I think, in general, something may be visible. I accounted for atmosphere/distortion etc.. what I did NOT think about was the atmosphere on the moon. Really silly, huh? Those explosions in Star Wars are quite misleading, being in the vacuum of space.

        This was more a result of my renewed amazement with space. =P Some of our ideas are a bit nuts. I was not able to envision anything but a 2 mile high mushroom cloud, however, that would not be the case.. I do think it would have left some easily viewable sort of footprint.

        Thank you!

        December 5, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
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