Famous National Geographic Magazine Covers

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The National Geographic magazine’s cover images have been an iconic element of that storytelling since September 1959, when a picture of a U.S. Navy fighter jet became the first cover photograph to appear. Since then, the cover images — captured by gifted and innovative photographers — have brought readers to every continent, to the ocean depths and into space as part of the magazine’s acclaimed storytelling.

Famous National Geographic Magazine Covers:

October 1888
Cover by NGS

Famous National Geographic Magazine Covers
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories

National Geographic Magazine, volume I, number 1, features the Society’s first seal, a map of the United States.

June 1985
Photo by Steve McCurry/National Geographic

Famous National Geographic Magazine Covers
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories

Haunting eyes and a tattered garment tell the plight of a girl who fled her native Afghanistan for a refugee camp in Pakistan.

December 1969
Photo by Neil Armstrong

Famous National Geographic Magazine Covers
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories

Buzz Aldrin stands on the lunar surface.

October 1978
Photo by Koko

Famous National Geographic Magazine Covers
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories

A newly minted National Geographic photographer makes her own self-portrait.

October 2009
Photo by Michael Nichols/National Geographic

Famous National Geographic Magazine Covers
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories

Part of a portrait made up of 84 shots, taken as cameras rode a rope rigged by canopy ecologist Jim C. Spickler.

Famous National Geographic Magazine Covers
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories

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