After Hours

Geek Trivia: How many photos exist of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon?

Neil Armstrong was the lead photographer on Apollo 11, and he couldn't be in the photos he was taking. Thus the scant few photos of the first moonwalker are a rare and precious commodity.

Precisely five photographs were ever taken of Neil Armstrong while Apollo 11 operated on the surface of the moon. Only four of those photos show Armstrong outside the Lunar Module and actually moonwalking. Only three of them show Armstrong in direct view, rather than a reflection. Only two of them show Armstrong in the full frame of the photo, rather than cut off.

No photo exists showing Neil Armstrong's face as he walked on the surface of the moon.

NASA has teased some low-quality still-frames of Armstrong out of the television footage of the Apollo 11 moonwalks, but none of them approach reasonable photo quality. We've all seen the grainy footage of Armstrong's giant leap for mankind, but it's not the same as having a full shot of Neil Armstrong to rival the poster-quality pic of Buzz Aldrin (with Armstrong the tiny reflected figure in Aldrin's visor), itself the most famous NASA photo this side of the Blue Marble.

Don't blame Buzz Aldrin for the oversight, either. Aldrin was assigned to photograph specific items and experiments at specific times, and he had virtually no mission leeway to take idle snaps of Armstrong. Nonetheless, he did manage to get a great reaction shot of Armstrong right after the first moonwalk.

Armstrong may never have had the time (or the ego) to pose for a momentous photograph on the surface of the moon, but that in no way diminishes the impact of his bravery or his service. Neil Armstrong was the first of us to set foot on another world. By honoring his example, he almost certainly won't be the last.

That's more than just a legendary legacy of lunar exploration; it's an indefatigably image-defying instance of Geek Trivia.

Bonus Apollo Geek Trivia


Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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