Enter the maze

Mysterious moon music

by Peter W McOwan, Queen Mary University of London

A sound wave eclipse : copyright www.istockphoto.com 70880683

In tapes released by NASA strange moon music can be heard for the first time. The recording was made on the far side of the moon during the Apollo 11 lunar mission at the end of the 1960s. The space explorers reported they could hear an "outer space-type" droning musical sound while at the back of the Moon. They were worried nobody would believe them so recorded it. Various ideas were put forward to explain the off-earth unearthly music, including interference from the magnetic field of the moon, but the moon doesn't have a magnetic field.

The mystery floated around for a while until the explanation rocketed into view. The sounds were made by the natural feedback between the Lunar Module's and Command Module's VHF radios when they were turned on and nearby. The music stopped when the lunar module detached and landed on the Moon, playing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into history.