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A first glimpse of Earth and moon as worlds in space

As Voyager 1 left Earth on September 18, 1977, it looked back and acquired a stunning image.

Here is the first-ever photo of the Earth and moon in a single frame.  Voyager 1 took the photo on September 18, 1977, when it was 7.25 million miles (11.66 million kilometers) from Earth.   Image Number: P-19891 via NASA/JPL

Here is the first-ever photo of the Earth and moon in a single frame. Voyager 1 took the photo on September 18, 1977, when it was 7.25 million miles (11.66 million kilometers) from Earth. Image Number: P-19891 via NASA/JPL

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

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