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Our Moon has been a source of wonder to humanity, since time began. It is our nearest neighbour in the Universe, and the only other place in the Universe, to have been visited by humans.

The surface of the Moon is covered in craters, mountains, rock and fine-grained dust. There is always something fascinating to see, everywhere you look. These close-up photographs of the surface of the Moon, were taken by the Apollo 16 astronauts from lunar orbit.

Image credits: Apollo 16, NASA.

Moon Facts

Average diameter: 3,474 kilometres, or 2,159 miles

Mean distance from Earth: 385,000 kilometres, or 239,000 miles

Tilt: 1.5 degrees

Rotation period: 27.32 Earth days

Orbital Period: 27.32 Earth days

When the full Moon occurs at the same time that the Moon is closest to the Earth (perigee), the event is referred to as a Super Moon (left). When the full Moon occurs at the same time that the Moon is furthest from the Earth (apogee), the event is referred to as a Micro Moon (right). Super Moon events can appear more than 10% larger and about 30% brighter than Micro Moon events.

Average distances of Supermoons and Micromoons.

Image credit:

The Earth is a colourful contrast to the grey lunar terrain.

Image credit: Kaguya, JAXA

The craters near the Moon's poles are in perpetual darkness.

Image credit: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA.


The Apollo Program refers to a series of missions undertaken by NASA in the 1960s and 1970s. The primary objective was to land a man on the Moon, and return him safely to the Earth. Successful lunar landings occurred a total of six times, landing 12 men on the Moon and returning them all safely to the Earth.

Apollo Facts

Apollo 1

Commander: Virgil "Gus" Grissom

Senior Pilot: Edward White

Pilot: Roger Chafee

Planned launch: 21st February, 1967

Planned splashdown: 07th March, 1967

Mission never took place, as all crew-members were killed in a fire during ground testing. Apollo 2 to 6 were test launches of rockets and spacecraft, without any crew aboard.

Apollo 7

Commander: Walter Shirra

Lunar Module Pilot: Walter Cunningham

Command Module Pilot: Don Eisele

Launch: 11th October, 1968

Splashdown: 22nd October, 1968

Earth orbit mission.

Apollo 8

Commander: Frank Borman

Lunar Module Pilot: William "Bill" Anders

Command Module Pilot: James "Jim" Lovell, Jnr.

Launch: 21st December, 1968

Splashdown: 27th December, 1968

First manned mission to leave Earth orbit, and first humans to go around the Moon.

Apollo 9

Commander: James McDivitt

Lunar Module Pilot: Russell "Rusty" Schweikart

Command Module Pilot: David "Dave" Scott

Lunar Module: Spider

Command Module: Gumdrop

Launch: 03rd March, 1969

Splashdown: 13th March, 1969

Earth orbit mission.

Apollo 10

Commander: Thomas Stafford

Lunar Module Pilot: Eugene Cernan

Command Module Pilot: John Young

Lunar Module: Snoopy

Command Module: Charlie Brown

Launch: 18th May, 1969

Splashdown: 26th May, 1969

Practice run for the first lunar landing.

Apollo 11

Commander: Neil Armstrong

Lunar Module Pilot: Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin

Command Module Pilot: Michael Collins

Lunar Module: Eagle

Command Module: Columbia

Launch: 16th July, 1969

Lunar Landing: 20th July, 1969

Splashdown: 24th July, 1969

Distance travelled on lunar surface: About 250 metres, or 270 yards

Samples collected: 21.7 kilograms, or 47.8 pounds

First humans on the Moon.

Apollo 12

Commander: Charles Conrad, Jnr.

Lunar Module Pilot: Alan Bean

Command Module Pilot: Richard "Dick" Gordon

Lunar Module: Intrepid

Command Module: Yankee Clipper

Launch: 14th November, 1969

Lunar Landing: 19th November, 1969

Splashdown: 24th November, 1969

Distance travelled on lunar surface: 1.5 kilometres, or 0.9 miles

Samples collected: 34.3 kilograms, or 75.6 pounds

Apollo 13

Commander: James "Jim" Lovell, Jnr.

Lunar Module Pilot: Fred Haise

Command Module Pilot: John "Jack" Swigert

Lunar Module: Aquarius

Command Module: Odyssey

Launch: 11th April, 1970

Splashdown: 17th April, 1970

Lunar landing cancelled due to a major explosion in the Service Module.

Apollo 14

Commander: Alan Shepard

Lunar Module Pilot: Edgar Mitchell

Command Module Pilot: Stuart "Stu" Roosa

Lunar Module: Antares

Command Module: Kitty Hawk

Launch: 31st January, 1971

Lunar Landing: 05th February, 1971

Splashdown: 09th February, 1971

Distance travelled on lunar surface: 3.3 kilometres, or 2 miles

Samples collected: 44.8 kilograms, or 98.8 pounds

Apollo 15

Commander: David Scott

Lunar Module Pilot: James Irwin

Command Module Pilot: Alfred Worden

Launch: 26th July, 1971

Lunar Landing: 30th July, 1971

Splashdown: 07th August, 1971

Distance travelled on lunar surface: 27.9 kilometres, or 17.3 miles

Samples collected: 76.8 kilograms, or 169.3 pounds

Apollo 16

Commander: John Young

Lunar Module Pilot: Charles "Charlie" Duke

Command Module Pilot: Thomas "Ken" Mattingly

Lunar Module: Orion

Command Module: Casper

Launch: 16th April, 1972

Lunar Landing: 21st April, 1972

Splashdown: 27th April, 1972

Distance travelled on lunar surface: 27 kilometres, or 16.8 miles

Samples collected: 95.8 kilograms, or 211.2 pounds

Click the "Apollo 16" button to learn more about this extraordinary lunar mission.

Apollo 17

Commander: Eugene "Gene" Cernan

Lunar Module Pilot: Harrison Schmitt

Command Module Pilot: Ronald "Ron" Evans

Lunar Module: Challenger

Command Module: America

Launch: 07th December, 1972

Lunar Landing: 11th December, 1972

Splashdown: 19th December, 1972

Distance travelled on lunar surface: 30 kilometres, or 18.6 miles

Samples collected: 110 kilograms, or 242.5 pounds

Click on the "Apollo Lunar Surface Journal" button, to learn about the Apollo missions in detail, as well as browse thousands of photos taken prior to, during and after each mission. Hundreds of high resolution photos taken while the astronauts were on the Moon's surface are also available to view and download.

The Apollo 17 lunar mission landed in the valley of Taurus-Littrow. This view of the command module with the valley of Taurus-Littrow below, was captured by the astronauts in the lunar module, before final descent to the lunar surface.

Image credit: Apollo 17, NASA.

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