Taken aboard Apollo 8 by Bill Anders, this iconic picture shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface as the first crewed spacecraft circumnavigated the Moon, with astronauts Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell aboard on Christmas Eve on Dec. 24, 1968. Credit: NASA/Apollo 8/Bill Anders
For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
1968 was a tumultuous year in US history with the Vietnam War, political assassinations, race and anti-war riots and more rocking the very fabric of our country to its core.
But 1968 ended on a wondrous history making note with ‘Earthrise’ thanks to NASA and the Apollo moon landing program begun by President Kennedy – showing our home planet appearing to rise above the lunar surface on the very first voyage of humans journeying beyond the confines of Earth to our nearest neighbor
Taken aboard the Apollo 8 capsule by Bill Anders, the iconic ‘Earthrise’ picture shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface as the first crewed spacecraft circumnavigated the Moon, with NASA astronauts Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell aboard on Christmas Eve Dec. 24, 1968 – 52 years ago.
Thus Borman, Lovell and Anders were the first humans to witness and photograph an Earthrise and they took several images altogether.
Shortly before he took the unplanned photo, Anders exclaimed: “Oh my God, look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth comin’ up. Wow, is that pretty!” according to a NASA historical document.
It shows all of humanity in a single image save for the trio of space exploders – where no one had gone before.
We went to the Moon but discovered Earth! And its fragility!!
Apollo 8 was truly the dawn of a new era in human history and perception.
Earthrise is widely credited with sparking a new awareness of the Earth and starting the Environmental protection movement and a need to care for our fragile home planet.
“The vast loneliness up here of the Moon is awe inspiring, and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth. The Earth from here is a grand oasis to the big vastness of space.” — said Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell from lunar orbit
Earthrise goes down in the annuls of history as one of the most iconic images ever taken by humans and ever of the ‘space age.’
Watch this historic video from the Apollo 8 crew in lunar orbit reading the first few verses of Genesis from the Old Testament.
Video Caption: Apollo 8 Christmas message December 1968. The first manned space flight to orbit the moon launched from Earth Dec. 21, 1968. The crew sent this telecast from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, reading the first 10 verses of the book of Genesis.
Apollo 8 was launched on December 21, 1968 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center pad 39A.
After a three-day translunar trip the crew arrived in orbit on Dec. 24 and orbited the moon ten times – during which they made the famous recording above reading the 10 verses from the Book of Genesis honoring the worlds three major religions.
The crew then fired thrusters for lunar departure and the return trip to Earth on Dec. 25 and splashed down on Dec. 27 in the North Pacific Ocean
The Apollo 8 mission elapsed time duration was 6 days, 3 hours, 42 seconds.
Upon their safe return the trio were named Time magazines Men of the Year for 1968.
On this 52nd anniversary of Earthrise taken on Christmas Eve its fitting to feature it here again – as we enjoy the ‘Christmas Star’ formed by the ‘Great Conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn and appearing closer than they have been visible in the evening skies for 8 centuries or 800 years since 1226 !!
Read more about the Christmas Star & the Great Conjunction in my story here and the ISS astronauts celebrating Christmas in space in my story here.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about NASA missions, National Security missions, SpaceX Crew Dragon, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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