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First Close-up of the Moon from Luna 3
First Close-up of the Moon from Luna 3 (click to enlarge)

First Close-up of the Moon from Luna 3
Date: 7 Oct 1959

The Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first views ever of the far side of the moon. The first image was taken at 03:30 UT on 7 October 1959 at a distance of 63,500 km (about 39,457 miles) after Luna 3 had passed the moon and looked back at the sunlit far side. The last image was taken 40 minutes later from 66,700 km (about 41,445 miles). A total of 29 photographs were taken, covering 70% of the far side. The photographs were very noisy and of low resolution, but many features could be recognized.

This is the first close-up view of the moon returned, taken with the narrow angle camera. This image is centered at 20 N, 105 E, the dark region below and left of center is Mare Smythii, the bright crater above and left of center is Giordano Bruno. The moon is 3,475 km (about 2,159) in diameter and north is up.

A full gallery of Luna 3 photographs can be found at:

Credit: NSSDC Photo Gallery

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Last Updated: 22 Apr 2013