Bring back some good or bad memories


January 29, 2024

A Picture of a Photograph: The Family Photo That Charlie Duke Left on the Moon in 1972

On April 23, 1972, Apollo 16 astronauts Charlie Duke and John Young embarked on the third and final EVA of the mission, exploring the Descartes Highlands via Lunar Roving Vehicle. During the EVA, before setting up a Solar Wind Collector, Duke placed a small family photo he had brought along onto the lunar surface and snapped a few photos of it with his Hasselblad film camera. This is one of the photos.

The family photo that Charlie Duke left on the Moon on April 23, 1972.

The portrait shows Charlie Duke, his wife Dorothy, and their two sons Charles and Thomas. It looks like they are sitting on a bench in the summertime. The family photo, gingerly wrapped in clear plastic and slightly crumpled from being stashed in the pocket of a space suit, was left on the Moon. On the back of the photo Duke wrote: “This is the family of astronaut Charlie Duke from planet Earth who landed on the moon on April 20, 1972.”

It presumably still sits there today, just inches away from Charlie’s boot print — which, presumably, is also there.

On the far left is his oldest son, Charles Duke III, who had just turned seven. In the front in red is his youngest son, Thomas Duke, who was five. Duke and his wife, Dorothy Meade Claiborne, are in the background.(Photo courtesy of Charles Duke)

“I’d always planned to leave it on the moon,” Duke told Business Insider. “So when I dropped it, it was just to show the kids that I really did leave it on the moon.”

As Lunar Module pilot of Apollo 16 in 1972, Charlie Duke became the 10th and youngest person to walk on the Moon, at age 36 years and 201 days. When Duke was training to be an Apollo astronaut, he spent most of his time in Florida. But his family was stationed in Houston. As a result, the children didn’t get to see much of their father during that time.

Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., Lunar Module pilot of the Apollo 16 mission, is photographed collecting lunar samples at Station No. 1 during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity at the Descartes landing site. (Photo by NASA /John W. Young)

“So just to get the kids excited about what dad was going to do, I said ‘Would y’all like to go to the moon with me?’” Duke said. “We can take a picture of the family and so the whole family can go to the moon.”


Post a Comment



Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10