Years Later, 'Earthrise' Photo Still Resonates

MoreCloseclosemore

MoreCloseclosemore

On that Christmas Eve, the crew of NASA's Apollo 8 - Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell - were circling the moon looking for potential landing sites for future missions.

As a number of published accounts of the mission have noted, going to the moon hadn't been the original plan for Apollo 8. "Frank Borman, being a lifetime EAA member, said, 'I want you to have it".

'It depends on your point of view, ' concluded Houston.

Scientific American: "Apollo 8, 50 Years Later: The Greater Leap" - "At first Bill Anders thought it was no big deal".

"Oh my God, look at that picture over there", Anders said, turning the camera. There's the Earth coming up. There were no shots of the interior of the spacecraft or of the astronauts.

The resulting images - the first to show Earth from space - would go on to become immeasurably famous under the name "Earthrise".

According to Kurson, what the astronauts and NASA saw as a successful mission turned out to be a much-needed moment of Peace on Earth.

Three happy Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman left William A. Anders center and James A. Lovell stroll across the deck of the USS Yorktown after their recovery from the Pacific Ocean Dec. 28 1968

"Earthrise" also helped fuel the environmental movement. Before bedtime, the first envoys to another world took turns reading the first 10 verses from Genesis. "And when they splashed down six days later, there didn't seem to be a single person in this country who could disagree that something lovely and miraculous had happened". The conversations in the spacecraft at the time were captured by an on-board voice recorder.

ANDERS: The only color that we could see - and contrasted by this really unfriendly, stark lunar horizon made me think, you know, we really live on a attractive little planet. "But Earthwise changed out perspective in the span of one photo". And since Apollo 8's journey, only 21 other astronauts have seen what Borman, Lovell and Anders beheld up close, meaning that leafing through maps, globes and the pages of an atlas is the best way to hitch a ride with Apollo's chariot for the most of us.

Anders said he felt that the lasting legacy of the mission would be "Earthrise" a photo taken by the crew showing humanity's home planet hanging in the blackness of space above the lunar horizon. For me personally, as someone who isn't of any Christian faith but loves history, I look at it as an historical event, plain and simple, that's worth remembering because it was the first time people went to the Moon.

"Hand me a roll of color quick, will you", he said. Even so, it was thrilling to see the Earth from outside and be amazed at how blue it was. For Borman, however, the more spacious confines of the Apollo capsule (compared to the cramped Gemini) led to a bout of space sickness. More than 70 per cent of the view was that of the ocean.

"Those images speak of the beginnings of two extraordinary scientific ventures that are very relevant today".

Anders loaded the color film into his Hasselblad camera and started firing away while his anxious crewmates remained transfixed by the blue and white vision outside their windows. We are still wrestling with food security and sustainable agriculture, the next 50 years will be a roller coaster'. "I firmly believe that we need robust exploration of our solar system and I think man is part of that". And the earth was without form and void. "Within a year-and-a-half, the first Earth Day was organized, [and] the momentum emerged in the Congress for the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act". Their unique experience was called the "Overview Effect". These three men were the first human beings to ever witness our whole planet at once.

What's really interesting about the Earthrise image is that it was completely unplanned and serendipitous.

New Mexico braces for incoming winter storm
Drivers should expect the roads to be impacted with hard driving conditions and road closures around the state. A major Winter storm will affect the regions Wednesday night through Friday with heavy snow and blowing snow.

Latest News