11 December 2018 Blogs

50th Anniversary of Apollo 8

Intro Copy

One of the most famous photographs in history was taken Christmas Eve, 1968. While many people on the Earth were embroiled in political turmoil, cultural revolution and the Vietnam War, the crew of Apollo 8 was 220,000 miles away in orbit around the Moon. Launched from Cape Kennedy in a Saturn V rocket on December 21st, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders were in a NASA command module, scouting a spot for a future Moon landing. For the first two or three orbits, they were flying backwards so all the astronauts could see was the lunar surface rolling by beneath them. They then made a slight maneuver to roll the capsule over to where it was facing forward like driving a car. Anders was taking photos of the Moon’s terrain when one of the astronauts said: “Oh my God! Look at that!” Lovell and Borman also grabbed cameras and began shooting pictures. What they saw was the Earth rising above the surface of the Moon. They were the first humans in history to observe the Earth rising above the horizon of another “planetary” body. Since Anders was the only one to have a camera with color film and a telephoto lens, his snapshot became one of the iconic images of the Apollo space program. As they reached their ninth orbit, Borman introduced the crew to a live television audience and began to describe what he was seeing on the Moon. Then, announcing that the astronauts had a message for the people of Earth, each man in turn read a passage from the Book of Genesis. Borman ended the broadcast with these words: “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.” “Earthrise,” the name given to Anders’ photograph, is one of the most reproduced images of all time.The image broadcast back to Earth at the end of what was a very turbulent 1968 gave many a pause for reflection and restored some perspective. It is even credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement. The Apollo 8 mission was soon eclipsed by the Apollo 11 lunar landing, but Borman, Lovell and Anders achieved several firsts in space exploration. They were the first to leave low Earth orbit; first to orbit the Moon; first to see the far side of the Moon; first to witness Earthrise; first crew to launch from the Saturn V rocket; and the first to see the Earth as an entire planet from space. This December is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8. STEAM program teachers and librarians can get students interested in NASA and the Apollo space program and photography by letting them search eLibrary for Apollo 8 articles, images and videos. When searching, it is usually helpful to perform a title search, such as: TI(Apollo 8) AND Earthrise.

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