Famous photo of Ertris taken on Christmas Eve

December 24, 1968, by the Apollo 8 crew. Isn’t that beautiful? This is not really a land. Seen from any point near the moon, the earth does not rise or set, but is suspended in a point of the lunar sky. Astronauts have seen the rise of the Earth as they move in a spacecraft above the surface of the Moon.

On Christmas Eve 1968, William Anders, aboard the Apollo 8 spacecraft, turned his camera towards Earth and took this now famous photograph. This is a photo that showed a new perspective to humans, with the moon in the foreground and the earth floating in the distance. The iconic image helped spur environmental movement.

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NASA’s Science Exhibition Studio released the video below to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the photo, now known as “Earthrise”. Apollo 8’s location and what the astronauts saw through the spacecraft’s windows were recreated and matched to the aircraft’s audio.

You can hear the voices of Apollo 8 astronauts: Commander Frank Borman and crew members William A. Anders and James a. Lowell. During the astronauts’ fourth orbit on the moon, Borman performed a roll maneuver of their aircraft, which positioned them to capture Earth’s climb over the lunar horizon. While making fun of the fact that this video is not part of their board, the video releases wonderful moments as they are amazed for the first time at the sight and understand that getting the color image to capture the photo is important.

Don Rother described the icon in his book, What unites us. It explains how it captures peaceful earth in the darkness of space and what is really happening on the planet at that time in history:

Very quiet and still breathtaking this photo was taken at the end of a turbulent year. It was Christmas Eve 1968, but from there you would never know that a hot war was raging in Vietnam or that a cold war was dividing Europe. You have no idea about the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Bobby Kennedy. From that distance, people are invisible, like cities, towns and national borders. Everything that divides us racially, culturally, politically and spiritually is out of shape. What we see is a weak planet, which transcends the vastness of space.

With the click of a shutter, our spaceship Earth and everyone on board were captured by the first humans who dared to cross the Earth’s gravitational field and give the best picture of our home.

In the black sky, bright green streaks at one end.

Apollo 8 returns Earth’s atmosphere as photographed 40,000 feet above USAF KC-135A. Image via elakdawalla on Twitter.

Conclusion: Ertris is an iconic photograph taken by astronaut William Anders on December 24, 1968 on Apollo 8 in the fourth orbit of the Moon.

Click here to learn more about NASA’s visualization.

Deborah Byrd