Over the weekend, the internet exploded with reports that legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin and others have convinced experts that they encountered aliens by passing lie detector tests. The story was irresistible to true believers and skeptics alike, and coverage topped the Google News and Google Trends science corners.
So did Buzz Aldrin really see a UFO?
The story was originally published as an “exclusive” by British tabloid the Daily Star.
“Aldrin has always maintained he spotted a UFO on the way to the moon,” the article said. It quoted the astronaut as saying, “There was something out there that was close enough to be observed, sort of L-shaped.”
This quote likely comes from a mid-2000s TV documentary called First on the Moon: The Untold Story, which claimed that Aldrin saw a UFO during the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
At best, this is technically true. However, Aldrin and others have debunked any speculation that he actually witnessed evidence of aliens numerous times. For example, Aldrin addressed the sighting in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session in 2014.
The astronaut explained to readers that he did spot a weird, moving light during the Apollo 11 journey but said he was “absolutely convinced” it was just sunlight reflecting from a rocket panel that had separated from the lander.
Technically, he wrote, the source of this light could be classed as “unidentified,” but it certainly wasn’t caused by aliens. In fact, Aldrin couldn’t be clearer on this, writing, “It was not an alien.”
If that wasn’t enough, Aldrin explained what really happened a number of times on Fox News and such programs as Larry King Live in the mid-2000s. Furthermore, NASA scientist David Morrison said the UFO claims were overblown, and Phil Plait (aka the Bad Astronomer) gave the show a thorough debunking in two 2006 blog posts.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin speaks during the Global Green Pre-Oscar Gala in Los Angeles in February. Aldrin and other astronauts are at the center of a story about lie detector testing and UFOs. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Global Green and EIN
Did Aldrin pass a lie detector test?
This brings us to the crux of the Daily Star article: that Aldrin’s UFO-spotting…