50 Stunning Photos of the Sun, Moon, Earth, Mars, Saturn and Other Planets

Some of the most stunning photos of the planets and moons in our solar system, including our own.
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50 Stunning Photos of the Sun, Moon, Earth, Mars, Saturn and Other Planets Getty Images / Newsweek

In 1840, Dr. J. W. Draper captured what is widely recognized as the first photograph of the full Moon. In a blotched image on a silver-plated copper sheet, this daguerreotype—the first form of commercial photography—shows the Moon grey and shaded, trapped in time. It was publicly displayed at the New York Lyceum.

Five years later, two French physicists took the first successful photograph of the Sun and the results were even more remarkable. Whereas the Moon could easily be seen by the naked eye, in the 19th century, the Sun was a relative mystery with its blinding rays.

Space photography, or "astrophotography" as it is sometimes called, has come a long way since these first photos. Our cameras are more sophisticated and our abilities to explore the distant realms of the galaxy are more advanced.

But, in many ways, the sense of excitement and wonder attached to every image is the same as ever. We are still bewildered by everything that the universe holds. The more we learn, the more we are reminded of how little we know.

This gallery runs through 50 of the most stunning photos of the planets and moons in our solar system, including our own, and humanity's efforts to understand them all. These images include the far side of the Moon—impossible to see from Earth—and Jupiter's Northern Lights.

"The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding," the late astronomer Carl Sagan said. "Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home."

These images capture some of the most beautiful aspects of the universe—and with the dazzling technology that often lies behind them, each illustrates the small steps humanity is taking in its great mission of discovery.

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This stunning image of the Sun looking just like a jack-o’-lantern was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in October 2014, and tweeted by the space agency for Halloween that year. NASA explained that “the active regions in this image appear brighter because those are areas that emit more light and energy. They are markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona.” NASA/Reuters