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| | Human World | Space on Dec 24, 2014

This date in science: Earthrise from the moon

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.

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 year ago, NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio released 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.

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. The term ‘earthrise’ is a bit misleading since – as seen from any one spot on the moon’s surface – the Earth doesn’t rise or set. Instead, because one side of the moon always faces Earth, Earth always hangs in a single spot in the moon’s sky as seen from any one spot on the lunar near side. The astronauts saw Earth rise because they were moving, in their spacecraft, above the moon’s surface. All that said … isn’t it wonderful?

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 this new NASA visualization.