50th anniversary of 1st Earthrise photo from moon

A video visualization of events leading to one of the best-known photographs of the 20th century – Earth rising over the moon – as seen by Apollo 8 astronauts 50 years ago.

December 24, 1968 – from the crew of Apollo 8. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s not really an Earthrise, of course. As seen from any one spot on the moon’s near side, Earth doesn’t rise or set, but simply hangs in one spot in the lunar sky. The astronauts saw Earth rise because they were moving, in a spacecraft, above the moon’s surface.

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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. December 24, 2018, is the 50th anniversary of the famous Apollo 8 Earthrise photograph captured by those astronauts.

Five 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.

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. The video lets you see the view these Apollo 8 astronauts saw as, during a roll maneuver of their craft, they peered from a window and noticed Earth ascending over the lunar horizon.

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.

Apollo 8 reentering Earth’s atmosphere, photographed from a USAF KC-135A aircraft at 40,000 feet. Image via @elakdawalla on Twitter.

Bottom line: Fifty years ago, on December 24, 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts captured one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century – Earthrise from the moon.

Click here to read more details about the NASA visualization.

Deborah Byrd