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This date in science: Earthrise

Click here for a video visualization of events leading to one of the iconic photographs of the 20th century – Earth rising over the moon – as seen by Apollo 8 astronauts.

Iconic earthrise photo - taken December 24, 1968 - by the crew of Apollo 8.

Iconic Earthrise photo – taken December 24, 1968 – by the crew of Apollo 8. It’s not really an Earthrise, of course. As seen from any one spot on the moon’s near-side surface, the Earth doesn’t rise or set, but instead always hangs in a single spot in the lunar sky. The astronauts saw Earth rise because they were moving, in their spacecraft, above the moon’s surface. All that said … isn’t it beautiful?

December 24, 1968. On this date, three astronauts had recently become the first human beings to leave our home planet and travel to another body in space. They all later said the most important thing they discovered was Earth. Today is the anniversary of the famous Apollo 8 “Earthrise” photograph captured by those astronauts.

A few years ago, on the 45th anniversary of this photo, NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio released the video below. It’s a visualization of the events leading up to the photo’s capture. The video gives you a front row seat on the view seen by lunar astronauts in the Apollo 8 mission, as, during a roll maneuver of their craft, they peered from a window and noticed Earth ascending over the lunar horizon.

You are there, as they capture one of the iconic photos of the 20th century – Earth rising over the moon.

In this video, you hear the voices of the Apollo 8 astronauts: Commander Frank Borman and crew members William A. Anders and James A. Lovell. You can hear them grappling, trying to find and load color film into the camera.

Apollo8 reentering Earth's atmosphere, photographed from a USAF KC-135A aircraft at 40,000 feet. Image via @elakdawalla on Twitter.

Apollo8 reentering Earth’s atmosphere, photographed from a USAF KC-135A aircraft at 40,000 feet. Image via @elakdawalla on Twitter.

Bottom line: On December 24, 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts captured what has become one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century – Earthrise from the moon. This post contains a video released by NASA in 2013. It’s a visualization that gives you a front row seat on the famous Earthrise photo.

Click here to read more details about the NASA visualization.

Deborah Byrd

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