On Christmas Eve in 1968, William Anders, aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft, moved his camera towards Earth and took this photo which is now legendary. It was a picture that showed humans a new perspective, with the moon floating in the foreground and the Earth floating in distant space. The iconic image helped to accelerate the environmental movement.
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The video below is now known as “Earthrise” by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio on the 45th anniversary of the photo. The position of Apollo 8 and what the astronauts saw through the spacecraft’s windows and was re-matched with the audio from the flight.
You can hear the voices of Apollo 8 astronauts: Commander Frank Borman and crew members William A. Anders and James A. Lovell. In the moon’s fourth orbit of astronauts, Borman performed a roll maneuver of his craft, which put him in a position to capture the Earth ascending the lunar horizon. The video relates to the exciting moments as they are surprised to see for the first time and are battling to get a color film to snap a moment-by-moment picture, while joking that the image was not part of their schedule.
Dan Rather described the iconic image in his book, What unites us. He describes how it captures a peaceful Earth in the darkness of space and what was actually happening on the planet at that moment of history:
This image, so peaceful and yet so breathtaking, was taken at the end of a turbulent year. It was Christmas Eve 1968, but from there you would never know that a hot war was going on in Vietnam or that the Cold War was dividing Europe. You are dr Martin would not have known about the murders of Luther King Jr. or Bobby Kennedy. From that distance, people are invisible, and therefore have city, country, and national boundaries. All that separates us ethnically, culturally, politically, and spiritually is absent from the image. What we are seeing is a fragile planet making its way into the vastness of space.
With the click of a shutter, our spacecraft was first occupied by humans to venture beyond the limits of the Earth’s gravity and to give us a better picture of our home.
Bottom Line: On December 24, 1968, there is an iconic photo taken by astronaut William Anders on Apollo 8 in the fourth orbit of the Moon.
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