I followed a link in an answer to the question about stereoscopic images and found a long list with panoramic images composed from images shot with the lunar Hasselblad cameras.

For instance the ALSEP pan at the end of EVA 2, assembled by Dave Byrne. enter image description here Made from 17 separate images, more than 360 °, see the shadow of photographing astronaut at the left and right side of the image.

I tried automatic stiching of the same images using a free demo version of AutoStich with a very good result without any manual intervention: enter image description here

Automatic stiching requires overlapping images. This is easy using a good standard camera viewfinder but difficult using the modified Hasselblad cameras wearing a space suit helmet.

Did the astronauts train taking overlapping panoramic images on Earth? Without using a panoramic tripod head, just using a handheld or suit mounted camera?

Using the 60 mm Biogon lens from Zeiss with a horizontal angular field of 47 ° the astronaut had to turn for a full 360 ° panorama of 16 images about 22 ° after each shot. But there is a tolerance from about 17 to 42 ° as long as the mean value is close to 22.5 ° and each pair of images overlaps at least 5 °.

But there were also panoramic images taken with the 500 mm lens. enter image description here

See this question about the 500 mm lens and its viewfinder. Due to the very small horizontal angular field of only 6.5 ° overlapping did not work well for all 5 images. There are a lot of other panoramic images with successful overlapping done with the 500 mm lens.

A panorama taken at Station 2 of Trophy Point using the 500 mm lens, assembly by Dave Byrne: enter image description here

No problems with overlapping, but a constant small rotation of the camera around its optical axis.

  • $\begingroup$ having the camera strapped to the chest probably helped rather than hindered $\endgroup$ – JCRM Oct 30 '18 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ The strapped camera to the chest may helped to keep the camera horizontally aligned, but did not help to turn about 22 ° after each shot. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Oct 30 '18 at 21:11

Unsurprisingly, yes. The book "Science Training History of the Apollo Astronauts" mentions training for photographic panoramas in several places. (These quotes may not be specific to Apollo 15 but it's clear from the book that it was common to all missions).

Muehlberger describes the procedure for the panoramas that were taken at each station just after the crew dismounted from the Rover: “The first guy off goes out a short distance and takes a 360 - degree film panorama while the other guy’s getting all the tools out, and this sort of thing, and getting ready to start work. While this guy’s doing this panorama, he’s sort of looking around and saying ‘Well, there’s a rock over there we’d better sample, and we’d better do our core over here , ’ trying to design what’s going to happen in these next few minutes that was assigned to that place. Th e panoramas were important because after they were all done, before they left, then the other guy took one from a different place, and that one showed, of course, all their footprints. You could check to see which rocks were now missing. You could add in some other details that way. If they still didn’t know where they were, you could use those two panoramas, because there’s now a stereobase, and you could look at the distant mountains and play triangulation games and locate the actual craters they were standing by on the Moon”

“ Panoramas were taken at each station to permit precise location of the station by resection and to illustrate and supplement geologic descriptions by the crew. A complete panorama consists of 15 or more overlapping photographs, covering a total of 360 ° . The overlap zones between pictures in panoramas can be viewed stereoscopically because the aiming direction of the camera was changed and the lens position was shifted slightly each time a picture was taken. This provides a stereoscopic baseline a few centimeters long, which is useful for study of topography within 50 to 100 m of the camera. Pictures were taken with a 500 - mm focal length lens on a Hasselblad camera to permit study of features inaccessible to the crew.

Appendix P gives a memo listing "Documented Sample Photographic Procedures for Apollo 16", included is the panorama procedure.

enter image description here

For an Apollo 15 specific reference, here's a panorama called out in the cuff checklist:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent answer, thank you! On page 170 there is nice diagramm for panoramic images. 12 images for a full circle, 3 for each quadrant. A rotation of 30° is well suited for visual judgment and fits well to the horizontal angular field of 47 ° of the used 60 mm lens. But "changes in direction ≥ 45 °" ? It should read "changes in direction ≤ 45 °". $\endgroup$ – Uwe Oct 31 '18 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed! That seems to be the formal version of the diagram sketched out in Appendix P of the book. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Oct 31 '18 at 21:52

From the book "Science Training History of the Apollo Astronauts", link from Organic Marble's excellent answer on page 138: enter image description here

Overlapping the images for a panorama was learned by try and error during the field exercises. Developing and mounting the panoramas was done during the night by a special photo lab team. What took hours in the photo lab is done today in some minutes using a digital camera and a laptop.


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