August 23, 1966. This photo reveals the first view of Earth from the moon, taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 on August 23, 1966. It’s shot from a distance of about 236,000 miles (380,000 kilometers) and shows half of Earth, from Istanbul to Cape Town and areas east, shrouded in night.
Lunar Orbiter 1 was one of five Lunar Orbiters sent to the moon in the 1960s by NASA. This particular craft was primarily designed to take photographs, in order to serve as an Apollo landing site survey mission. Read more about NASA’s Lunar Orbiter missions, 1966-1967
Though the photo revealed no detail on Earth’s surface when it was taken in 1966, those on Earth who saw this photo must have been stunned by it.
In 2008, NASA released a newly restored version of the original 1966 image of Earth. Using refurbished machinery and modern digital technology, NASA produced the image at a much higher resolution than was possible when it was originally taken. You’ll see the restored image below. Read more about the restoration here.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.