By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (March 23, 2022) – In Issue 2022-057 of Steve Kovacs Fun with Maps, we look at the history of the first moon shot.


Although there were a few fuzzy attempts earlier, on March 23, 1840 British-born scientist and NYU professor John Draper took the first detailed photograph of the moon.  Luckily, an 1865 fire at New York University did not consume Draper’s image and remains the earliest existing photograph of the moon today.

To get the focused image, a 20-minute-long exposure was necessary. 

Using a camera that was essentially a handmade telescope attached to a wooden box with the chemicals on a metal plate it took many nights of tries before Draper created a sharp image. 

Draper continued to make lunar photos for the rest of his life, and his son, Henry, continued the tradition, even building an observatory on the family property.

Here is Doppelmayr’s 1737 views of the moon’s orbit plus views of the surface of our celestial buddy.

View of the moon- 1737 (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.