How can the flag be waving on the Moon?

In several photos and film shots taken on the surface of the Moon, you can see the American flag apparently waving in the breeze. If there is no atmosphere on the Moon, how can a flag flutter?

There are two explanations.

(1) In the film shots you can see the astronauts rotating the flagpole as they push it into the ground. This rotation causes the flag to wave backwards and forwards. You won't see any video of the flag moving when there are no astronauts around.

(2) In photos such as the ones below, the flag appears to be fluttering but it is not. The flag is stationary—it is simply wrinkled. This wrinkling was caused by the way the flag was packaged for flight. These two photos were taken a number of seconds apart. You can see that the astronaut has moved but the flag has not, proving that it is not waving at all.

Flag apparently waving on the Moon

There was an additional factor that complicated whole "flag-waving" claim. When they first unfolded the flag, astronauts could not fully extend the horizontal crossbar at the top of the flag. This made the flag look like it was waving. NASA actually liked the effect, so they were happy to keep it.

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Author: Dave Owen.