“Oh my God! Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty.” Those were the words of Commander Frank Borman when he, along with Command Module pilot James Lovell and Lunar Module pilot William Anders, observed the Earth rising as they made their way around lunar orbit. They were the first humans to witness the event, known as ‘Earthrise’, and in doing so captured the first such images of Earth from afar.
This particular photo was taken by Anders on 24 December 1968, with some later calling it one of the most influential photographs of all time. It shows the fragility of our world from the distance of the Moon, 380,000 kilometres (235,000 miles) away.
Apollo 8 was an important milestone in the Apollo programme, as it tested some of the key technologies and manoeuvres that would be employed by the later missions that landed on the lunar surface. Having launched on 21 December 1968 the crew returned to Earth six days later on 27 December, paving the way for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s historic first steps in July 1969.
Image Credit: NASA