‘Earthrise’ Captured Earth Like Few Other Photos Have 50 Years Ago


1968. In the course of 12 months, our nation was immersed in turmoil: two assassinations, nearly constant racial unrest, violent anti-war protests, and the election of a president who would one day resign from office amid political scandal.

The next morning, we woke to presents, one of which was my first camera - a Kodak Instamatic with a flash cube on the top. The engines are armed.

Although the moon seems ever so familiar, we're really barely acquainted.

FRANK BORMAN: We are now approaching lunar sunrise.

KING:.At 7:51 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

As that first moon shot neared, Borman's wife, Susan, demanded to know the crew's chances. And the trip was full of danger and full of surprises. The mission capped a hard and conflict-filled year in the US, offering a rare moment when people could feel good about their planet. Many photos have been taken of the Earth and Moon since then, but there's something special about the original Earthrise photo-an image that continues to inspire, give hope, and put our place in the cosmos into perspective. One group were the people who were more environmentalists, seeing the earth as a whole and realizing its fragility and those kind of things. Aboard the Apollo 8, on their way to orbit the moon and return home safely, they saw what Ortelius only had imagined.

GERRY CARR: Apollo 8, Houston.

Anders also criticized NASA, noting the difference between the agency today and the era of the Apollo program. The Vietnam War was raging. Brutal riots outside the Democratic National Convention played out on televisions across the country.

Everyone eventually agreed: Ten orbits it would be.

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

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There was the Old Testament reading by commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders.

For Apollo 8, Honeysuckle Creek received telemetry and voice communications when the spacecraft first went into orbit behind the Moon, when it first emerged back into communication with Earth, and when it began its fiery re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere on December 27. And darkness was upon the face of the deep.

Uttering possibly the most famous words of the 20th century, at least in peacetime, Neil Armstrong declared the moment to be "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". "I happened to catch something out of the corner of my eye, and here was this lovely orb that was even more attractive when compared against the very stark, ugly background of the lunar surface".

ANDERS: Oh, my God.

"Oh my God, look at that picture over there!" "There's the Earth comin' up".

Lastly, there was the photo named "Earthrise", showing our blue and white ball - humanity's home - rising above the bleak, gray lunar landscape and 240,000 miles (386 million kilometers) in the distance.

As NPR writes, the photo that came to be known as "Earthrise" remains one of the most iconic images ever taken in space.

"I don't know who said it, maybe all of us said, 'Oh my God".

"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 handsome little planet, ' " he says. And for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 have a message that we would like to send to you. He says something unusual happened afterwards. "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 handsome and miraculous had happened". Borman jokingly said, "You can't do that, Anders, it's not in the flight plan" - I'd been pretty much holding onto the flight plan because I was overloaded with snapping away at the moon - but I figured, the heck with it, even a coldhearted [Air Force] fighter pilot like me realized this was something worth snapping and lucky for me I had color film and a 250mm lens on my camera.