September 18, 1977. Previous images had shown a part of the Earth, and a part of the moon, together. But – until this image by Voyager 1, taken on today’s date 37 years ago – we had never seen the Earth and moon as whole worlds in space, in the same frame and in color. Can you imagine how the image affected people, at the time? It was a stunning revelation.
Voyager 1 left Earth on September 5, 1977. It lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a Titan-Centaur rocket.
It was 11.66 million kilometers (7.25 million miles) from Earth – directly above Mount Everest, on the night side of the planet – when it captured this image.
Today, Voyager 1 still communicates with NASA’s Deep Space Network. It receives routine commands and returns data. Both Voyager 1 and 2 are currently in the heliosheath – the outermost layer of the heliosphere, or sphere of our sun’s influence. In that part of space, the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas, that is, the gas between the stars.
Voyager 1 is currently the farthest earthly spacecraft from Earth.
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.