After asking Have astronauts in space suits ever taken selfies? If so, how? I started to think about the photo below, and especially the cropped and rotated section that I found in the Wikipedia article for Opposition Surge.

Cropped and rotated AS11-40-5903 Neil Armstrong taken by Neil Armstrong Source

I always get confused by this pair of images. The sun is behind and to the side of Buzz Aldrin, who is inside the large spacesuit in the center of the large image below. That's why Aldrin's shadow is cast forward obliquely towards the camera.

In the reflection of Aldrin's gold-coated visor we also see Aldrin's shadow and the brightening of the reflection of the regolith forming a halo around Aldrin's helmet as seen in the zoomed and cropped image. Normally we see the halo around the photographer's camera, but in this photo we're viewing the regolith and shadow in reflection.

I have wondered for a while if this is just a fortuitous thing, an unintentional "selfie", or if it was planned or at least anticipated that an astronaut taking a photograph of another astronaut facing them at medium to close range would also have an image of themselves reflected in the visor, thereby imaging both astronauts on the Moon simultaneously.


  1. Did Astronauts rehearse their photoshoots on Earth?
  2. Is it therefore likely that Armstrong's "accidental selfie" was planned or at least anticipated?

below: NASA/Apollo photo AS11-40-5903 from here (larger size available there and at the bottom of this page.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Related, possible duplicate space.stackexchange.com/questions/31715/… $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 19 '19 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble It's not even a possible duplicate unless there's an answer to 2. Is it therefore likely that Armstrong's "accidental selfie" was planned or at least anticipated? In fact, answers there only address taking panoramic images specifically. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 19 '19 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ How, exactly, would an astronaut take a picture of another helmeted astronaut looking at them (the picture-taking astronaut) without being reflected in the non-picture-taking astronaut's helmet? $\endgroup$ – Sean Jul 10 '19 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Sean try to find the photographer in this photo in Uwe's answer. Yes, with such a convex visor it would be hard for the photographer not to end up being reflected geometrically but there is also a question of light levels. During rehearsals it looks like they didn't lower their gold reflective sun visors, so the reflection could have been a genuine surprise. It's an issue of light levels, not geometry. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 10 '19 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh: One would presume that they were aware that they would have to have the visors down on the moon (that being why they had the visors in the first place), and that the visors were reflective, so I'm still having trouble seeing how it would've been a surprise. $\endgroup$ – Sean Jul 10 '19 at 22:56

Astronaut Training for Lunar Photography

The Apollo astronauts underwent intensive training in preparation for their Moon explorations. Over the several years prior to the Moon missions, scientific and photographic training was provided. Astronauts were encouraged to take training cameras on trips to become more familiar with the camera operation and to enhance their photographic technique.

Tutorials were provided to the crews on the equipment, its operation, as well as on the scientific purposes. The crews visited geologic sites in Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii, frequently simulating their lunar traverse, completely outfitted with sample bags, checklists, simulated backpacks, lunar rock hammer, core-sampling equipment, and typically using Hasselblad EL cameras similar to those they would use on the Moon.

As the use of the camera was mostly automated, the most crucial training was in pointing the camera which was attached to their chest control packs for the suit's environmental control system. The astronaut would point his body in order to aim the cameras. Films taken during the practice exercises were processed and returned to the crewmen who would study the results.

From this NASA page.

NASA named Richard Underwood its first chief of photography. “He was a visionary who advocated for experimenting with cameras during the Mercury and Gemini programs,” notes Wired. “Later, he taught Apollo astronauts how to frame shots, set exposures, and calculate focus, and encouraged them to tote their Hasselblads on personal trips to hone their skills. ‘Your key to immortality,’ he told them, ‘is in the quality of your photographs and nothing else.’”

From this page.

See also these questions about the 500 mm lens and its use for panoramas.

enter image description here

A photo of Neil Armstrong wearing a suit with attached camera during a training from this page.

Neil Armstrong, standing in front of a Lunar Module mock-up and holding a camera during a simulation in Houston on April 22, 1969

Neil Armstrong, standing in front of a Lunar Module mock-up and holding a camera during a simulation in Houston on April 22, 1969. Source

A lot more photos of astronauts during training with camera (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9).

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    $\begingroup$ I added a photo, then realized it's not so much different than the one you have already. Feel free to roll-back. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 10 '19 at 14:08

To supplement answer by @Uwe, I’ll try to answer question two.

It is unlikely that astronauts of Apollo 11 had practiced photographing each other. According to Neil Armstrong’s biography “The First Man” they did not think of taking pictures of each other, it just didn’t cross their minds. Both were taking pictures and held camera according to schedule laid out in the flight plan, and that seemingly included only rocks and landscapes.

As a side note, there is not a single portrait of the first man on the moon, on the moon .... because “no one thought about it” - not during the months of planning nor when the guys were actually on the moon. Different times.

  • $\begingroup$ This is really interesting, thank you for your answer! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 20 '19 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ If possible, can you mention the chapter, possibly the page number as well for the "According to Neil Armstrong’s biography..." bit? A quote would be very helpful. In Stack Exchange answers it's important to add supporting links or citations to statements of facts. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 20 '19 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ But I think there is a contradiction to the position of the NASA chief of photography Richard Underwood. "‘Your key to immortality,’ he told them, ‘is in the quality of your photographs and nothing else." $\endgroup$ – Uwe Apr 20 '19 at 9:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Uwe How is that a contradiction? The immortality was to be achieved by excellent pictures of the Moon, not of their fellows. $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen Apr 20 '19 at 10:04
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, the immortality was to be achieved by excellent pictures of the Moon, of the landed Lunar Module, of the astronauts installing experiments like the retro reflector, of an astronaut with the US flag and also of an astronaut standing on the Moon. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Apr 20 '19 at 10:24

Did Apollo-11 astronauts rehearse their photoshoots on Earth?

Apollo astronauts rehearsed everything they planned to do on a mission, including taking photographs, in their training before a mission. They also rehearsed hundreds or even thousands of "what if?" scenarios that they hoped they would never need to put into practice during an actual mission.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Space! It's important to support statements of fact with some supporting links or references. While I"m confident this true, for this to be a good Stack Exchange answer you'll need to support this somehow. A passage in a book on the Apollo program, or an article on-line, or something. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 20 '19 at 0:13
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    $\begingroup$ How about spending twelve years as a historian at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL? Does that count? $\endgroup$ – Michael C Apr 20 '19 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ Then once again welcome! It's not that I doubt you at all, and like I said already I am confident that it's true. Future readers who come to the site to read answers have no clue of the real-world identities or backgrounds of every user who posts answers. The way readers gauge the veracity of answers is by the supporting links and citations. If you have a look around at well received answers, you'll see that this is true. There are a few "special cases" who have established themselves over dozens or hundreds of authoritative answers, who've worked directly on missions, but it's quite rare $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 20 '19 at 10:56
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    $\begingroup$ For example, even if there were hundreds of historians answering questions in History SE, every single one meticulously sources their answers. Nobody says "well, I'm a historian, so you'll have to take my word for it." ;-) Also, including sources boost the value of the answer because it gives readers more resources to read further if they so choose. Anyway, have a look around, you can check for example all of the questions that have the history tag if you like. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 20 '19 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ There are plenty of questions with the photography tag as well! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 20 '19 at 11:06

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