The Family Photo That Was Left on the Surface of the Moon


We’ve seen photography of the Moon, and photography taken on the Moon; people have even left photography gear up there. But this is the first we’ve heard of a photo from Earth, not only making it to the Moon, but staying there.

Fortunately, it was left there on purpose (Can you imagine? “Uhhh … John … we need to turn around, I forgot something…”), and the story behind the picture goes something like this.

On April 23, 1972, Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke took his third and final jaunt on the moon. He and fellow astronaut John Young took the Lunar Rover exploring in the Descartes Highlands, and while they were there, Duke left a token on the surface of the Moon — a portrait of his family.

At the top you can see a picture that Duke snapped using his Hasselblad camera, showing the family photo a few inches above one of his space suit prints.

Here’s a closer look:


The photo depicts him, his wife Dorothy, and two sons Thomas and Charles posing on what looks like a park bench. And for over 40 years now, that photo (and corresponding boot print) has remained in the same exact spot. In a way, Duke not only took his family to the moon, they never left.

(via Universe Today via Retronaut)

Image credits: Photographs by NASA

  • Urmom

    Oh pollution how cute.

  • Mosley Hardy

    no doubt bleached entirely white by now.

  • ahhum

    haha first thing I thought of. “oh great, we’re littering the moon too.”

  • Alan Dove

    Did Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons know about this when they wrote that awesome sequence in “Watchmen?”

    “All we ever see of stars are their old photographs.”

  • WallStreet

    What are we gonna do when we find one of those “family pics” on Mars???

  • Leonardo Abreu

    lol, I almost did a comment about that…

  • aes53

    Yep, you nailed it, the hard UV pouring down on the moon will have rendered it blank (and the plastic bag will be long gone).

  • Anthony Redgrave

    It would be so much fun if one of these days someone would find the exact same picture on… Mars. Man, these aliens really can’t pull a good prank at all.

  • phycon

    Damn Humans!

  • Junkie

    I see what you did there…

  • D4

    Wonder if you can see it using google moon :/

  • gabe sturdevant

    Can we get some of the Hasselblads that were left? Ill pay a dollar for one.

  • Dave

    That was taken at Studio 3 in Burbank. It’s currently in the props dept. right next to the Homey the Clown stuff. :P

  • Manuel

    lol, I almost did that comment to.

  • Armani Quintas

    This has been recreated on the movie “Apollo 18.” The photo looks similar and even has a plastic bag cover.

  • jacktheripper

    I bet he did that on purpose

  • Jarod McCarty

    You must be some sort of genius!

  • Spookysr

    Not if it was a benzophenone-treated plastic photo holder… Isn’t that a holder supplied by NASA for moon rocks, documents like check-lists, photos, etc? I think they are all anti-UV treated. He just stole one from the LEM storage locker I think. I wonder what cosmic and gamma rays will do to it.

  • Spookysr

    They left a lot more stuff there than just a photo… What do you think they did with solid waste? And the LEM platform, rovers, cameras, flags, seismic laser cubes, etc.

  • human

    wtf the picture is colored?

  • Don

    Duh, they had color pictures then!!!

  • Sam Lock

    I can see a wisp of solar breeze flipping it over.

  • Sam Lock

    Colour was invented very early on, it was just cheaper to use B/W.

  • rob

    litter bug.

  • Manuel

    I would’ve left my butt imprint !

  • Haryadi Be

    do not litter on the moon….lol

  • Haryadi Be

    then put a sign borad on mars too, DO NOT LITTER ON MARS…lol

  • David Landers

    after 40 years? I doubt the uv protection was designed to last that long. it’s probably not only bleached white, but the plastic is probably nearly disintegrated from outgassing.