Fuzzy black and white shot of the far side of the Moon.
Source: Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Published: February 14, 2018

This image—taken by the former Soviet Union's Luna 3 spacecraft—marks the first time human beings saw the far side of the Moon.

Then and Now

Luna 3's lunar far side image from 1959 compared to a view based on Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images.

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 Oct. 7, 1959 at a distance of about 39,457 miles (63,500 kilometers) after Luna 3 had passed the Moon and looked back at the sunlit far side.

A total of 29 photographs were taken, covering 70 percent of the far side. The photographs were very noisy and of low resolution, but many features could be recognized.

The image is centered at 20 degrees N, 105 degrees 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.


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