Only photograph of Neil Armstrong on the moon

Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Education, NASA Space stuff, Space Travel | 2 comments

Only photograph of Neil Armstrong on the moon

On this, the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, take note of the following space oddity: For all of the beautiful photos from man’s first walk on the moon, interestingly enough there exists but a single still photo of Neil Armstrong on his historic walk. One of his duties was to take photos while Buzz Aldrin set out the experiments. Armstrong of course, is visible in the relatively poor television from the lunar surface, in some movie footage and a reflection off of Aldrin’s helmet visor, but no actual direct still photos exist except this one. The crew had a single camera out on the surface, a specially made German Hasselblad that shot square 70mm images, a camera still used up through much of the shuttle program until digital took over. This one photo was part of a larger panorama that Buzz shot. 

There was still doubt early on about the identity of the astronaut in this image, for a long while largely because both spacesuits were identical making it impossible to tell who was who. Starting with Apollo 13, the commander’s suit was marked with red stripes. (NASA really didn’t learn that lesson until Apollo 12).

Gene Cernan

Gene Cernan of Apollo 17 is clearly identifiable by his red stripe.

Not everyone was clueless about this aspect of spaceflight. In 2001-A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick or their consultants, included multi-hued spacesuits onboard the Discovery bound for Jupiter.

Discovery Spacesuits

Here is astronaut Dave Bowman, in the iconic red suit, but with the helmet from the green emergency suit. Frank Poole, who was killed by the HAL computer, wore a yellow suit, while a light blue suit is seen in the pod bay, and rumors persist that there was to be a paisley suit as well.


  1. …and the learning never stops. Thanks for that.

  2. Then there are photos from the automatic sequence camera inside the Eagle. Some of them have been enhanced to clearly show Armstrong’s face clearly as he moves on the surface. Still, Buzz got the better end of that situation.

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