It has been many decades since Gilbert H. Grosvenor, the first full-time editor of National Geographic magazine, spent a night beneath a giant sequoia tree in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, and was so touched by the experience that he lobbied for the 1916 creation of the National Park Service.

Since then, the magazine has cheered and championed more than 10,000 expeditions around the world—from, Matthew Stirling's groundbreaking findings on pre-Columbian societies of Mesoamerica, Jane Goodall's breakthroughs in her studies of chimpanzees, and Buzz Aldrin's epic trip to the moon.

On Sunday, the magazine will be marking its 125th anniversary as a leading voice in discovery, adventure and environmental and historical preservation. The January 2013 special edition themed 'The New Age of Exploration' will hail the advent of new technologies in archaeology, paleontology and marine biology, which have paved the way to a new age of exploration.

Check out the slideshow below for some of the magazine's most iconic moments in time and join explorers Robert Ballard, James Cameron and Jane Goodall on Sunday January 13 at 1:00pm ET in the National Geographic’s Google+ page:

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  • 1915 | CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES

    Gilbert H. Grosvenor, first full-time editor of National Geographic magazine, awakens after a night spent beneath a giant sequoia tree during his first trip to California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. After this visit, he lobbied for passage of a bill that created the National Park Service in 1916. (Gilbert H. Grosvenor Collection) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • 1931 | AFGHANISTAN

    In his favorite picture, legendary National Geographic photojournalist Maynard Owen Williams marveled how, in this Herat, Afghanistan, bazaar, no one blinked during the three seconds required to make the exposure. (Photo by Maynard Owen Williams) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • LA VENTA, TABASCO. MEXICO

    Beginning in 1938, Matthew Stirling, chief of the Smithsonian Bureau of American Ethnology, led eight National Geographic-sponsored expeditions to Tabasco and Veracruz in Mexico. He uncovered 11 colossal stone heads, evidence of the ancient Olmec civilization that had lain buried for 15 centuries. (Photo by Richard Hewitt Stewart) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • 1957 | SOUTH POLE, ANTARCTICA

    National Geographic magazine’s Thomas Abercrombie, first correspondent to reach the South Pole, flies the Society’s flag from the Pole while reporting on the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58. (Photo by Thomas J. Abercrombie) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • 1964 | TANZANIA

    A touching moment between primatologist and National Geographic grantee Jane Goodall and young chimpanzee Flint at Tanzania’s Gombe Stream Reserve. (Photo by Hugo van Lawick) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • 1969 | THE MOON

    Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility, his visor reflecting Neil Armstrong and the lunar module Eagle. The Apollo 11 astronauts carried the National Geographic Society flag with them on their journey to the Moon. (NASA) (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/)

  • 1984 | SOVIET UNION

    Behind the Iron Curtain: Workers parade through Red Square on May Day. (Photo by Dean Conger) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • 1991 | NORTH ATLANTIC

    Rusted prow of the R.M.S. Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg in April 1912. (Photo by Emory Kristof ) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • 1995 | INDIA

    By setting off a camera trap, a female tiger captures her own image in Bandhavgarh National Park. (Photo by Michael Nichols) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • PERU

    The “Ice Maiden,” the 500-year-old mummy of a young Inca girl found on a Peruvian mountaintop by archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Johan Reinhard. (Photo by Stephen Alvarez) http://www.nationalgeographic.com/125/

  • The cover of the January 2013 special anniversary issue of National Geographic magazine, which will investigate the “New Age of Exploration."

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