Rare Photos Reveal Fascinating Views of the Apollo 11 Landings

By Attila Nagy on at

You're looking at Buzz Aldrin lifting his boot before taking the photo of the most iconic footprint in history. It's one of the many discarded Apollo images stored in NASA's archives. Here's a collection of those rare, funny, intimate, and always fascinating views to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the landing on the Moon.

Blurry portrait of mission commander Neil Armstrong in Command Module during Earth Orbit phase.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Mike Collins command module pilot and a floating camera.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


J.J. Abrams style photo of Earth taken during Earth Orbit phase.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


The United States and Mexico photographed from Earth's orbit.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Looking back to our home planet on the way to the Moon.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Close-up photo of the docking target on the roof of Lunar Module (LM) as seen from the Command Module (CM) as it docked.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Beautiful machinery: composite image of the LM drogue inside Apollo 11 CM cabin.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Jon Hancock/NASA


Composite image of Buzz Aldrin and the messy interior of the Lunar Module Eagle.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Jon Hancock/NASA


Buzz Aldrin listening to mission control transmission during translunar coast.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Earth beyond LM exterior seen from CM window during translunar coast.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Solar corona photograph.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Upon arrival: cratered surface of the Moon.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Part of orbital lunar horizon with peeking Earth.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


LM from CM window after undocking.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Sunrise on Tranquillity Base

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Double Earthrise beyond a LM thruster quad.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Gorgeous view before landing: crater Hartmann, and beyond it, crater Green from the LM.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


The Eagle has landed: Tranquility Base and LM shadow from LM window.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Armstrong's first photo after setting foot on the Moon.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Aldrin exiting the Eagle.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive/composite by Ed Hengeveld


Aldrin's boot during soil mechanics test a.k.a. how the most iconic photo of the Moon landing was made.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


This unintentional photograph of suit is the proof that it was not easy to crank up and release the shutter of those Hasselblads wearing clumsy gloves.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


This image of lunar dust only exists because of inadvertent shutter release.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Rear of LM ascent stage and Earth beyond.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Beat this: Armstrong's shadow selfie with LM from East Crater.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Neil Armstrong works at the LM – one of the rare medium format Apollo 11 photographs which include Armstrong.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA


Solar wind staff in surface shown in the sun struck final frame of film magazine "S"

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Armstrong in LM after historic moonwalk.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Aldrin in LM after historic moonwalk.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


These two panoramic views of the lunar surface were photographed from the LM before and after the Moonwalk. Note the numerous footprints made by the two crewmen during the EVA period.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA


Tranquility Base and flag from LM window. Did you know that the flag was blown over by the exhaust from the ascent engine during liftoff of Apollo 11? Buzz Aldrin witnessed it.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Ascending LM and Earthrise.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Farewell: Moon as viewed from Apollo 11 CM Columbia after TransEarth Injection (that shape against black is reflection of internal fluorescent lamp).

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


One of the last shots of Moon during trans-Earth coast.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Going home: crescent Earth during trans-Earth coast showing the coast of Somalia.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center


Apollo 11 crewmen await pickup by helicopter following splashdown on July 24, 1969.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Traditional post-flight cake cutting ceremony was altered since Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., were restricted to the Mobile Quarantine Facility.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Apollo 11 astronauts, still in quarantine van, are greeted by wives upon arrival at Ellington AFB on July 27, 1969.

Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

Photo: NASA/Project Apollo Archive


Rare photos reveal fascinating views of the Apollo 11 moon landing

The gold replica of an olive branch the traditional symbol of peace, which was left on the moon's surface by the astronauts.  Armstrong, Commander, was in charge of placing the branch on the Moon. The gesture presented a fresh wish for peace for all mankind.

Photo: NASA