The Earth rises into view over the lunar horizon for the astronauts aboard Apollo 8 in 1968.
“No one told them to look for the Earth. It was Christmas Eve 1968 and the first manned mission to the moon had reached its destination. As Apollo 8 slipped into lunar orbit the crew prepared to read passages of Genesis for a TV broadcast to the world. But as the command module came around on its fourth lap, there it was visible through the window – a bright blue and white bauble suspended in the black above the relentless grey of the moon. Before that moment 50 years ago, no one had seen an earthrise. The sight sent Bill Anders, the mission photographer, scrambling for his camera. He slapped a 70mm colour roll into the Hasselblad, set the focus to infinity, and started shooting though the telephoto lens. What he captured became one of the most influential images in history. A driving force of the environmental movement, the picture, which became known as Earthrise, showed the world as a singular, fragile, oasis. On previous laps Anders had snapped the far side of the moon for the geologists and the near side of it for Apollo’s landing site planners. ‘It didn’t take long for the moon to become boring. It was like dirty beach sand,’ Anders told the Guardian. ‘Then we suddenly saw this object called Earth. It was the only colour in the universe.’ Apollo 8 launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on 21 December 1968. The enormous Saturn V rocket, more than 110 metres tall, had flown only twice before and never with a crew. But on that day the rocket performed. Tucked inside the command module, Anders, Frank Borman and James Lovell looped the planet twice before the third stage blasted them onwards to the moon. They arrived nearly three days later, completed 10 lunar orbits, and headed home for a splashdown in the north Pacific. Earthrise did not have an immediate impact. Its philosophical significance sunk in over years, after Nasa put it on a stamp, and Time and Life magazine highlighted it as an era-defining image. ‘It gained this iconic status,’ Anders said. ‘People realised that we lived on this fragile planet and that we needed to take care of it.’ The shot did more than boost the environmental movement. …”
W – Earthrise
NASA: The Story Behind Apollo 8’s Famous Earthrise Photo (Video)