A thrilling re-mix of Earthrise on the moon as seen by Apollo 8


Recreation of the historic earthrise seen by the Apollo crew from the moon

This has been circulating for several days on the Web, but in case you missed it, take a few minutes to re-live the first photo ever taken of the Earth at the moon. It was photographed by Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders as he and crewmates Jim Lovell and Frank Borman became the first humans to orbit the moon on Christmas Eve 1968.

Recreation of the view of Earth rising over the lunar limb as seen by the Apollo 8 astronauts on Christmas Eve 1968. The lunar landscape is based on photos taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Earth is modeled after photos taken on Dec. 24, 1968 by the Environmental Science Services Administration 7 satellite. The original Earthrise photo shot by astronaut Bill Anders (seen below) was in black and white. Credit: NASA

As you watch the video, you’ll learn how with the help of today’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Anders’ photos and color photos taken by an automatic camera on the spacecraft, Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio recreated the event in real time. It’s so darn good, it almost feels like you’re sitting there with the crew.

The original Earthrise photo taken by Bill Anders on Apollo 8 with black and white film. The iconic color photo (seen below) was taken minutes later after fellow astronaut Jim Lovell finally found a roll of color film. Credit: NASA

I’ll leave you with the words of Bill Anders when he first noticed the Earth from his window:

“Oh my God, look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth comin’ up. Wow, is that pretty!”

The first color photo of Earthrise at the moon from Apollo 8 on Dec. 24, 1968. Once Bill Anders got the color film from Lovell, he shot several exposures to make sure he got a good one. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

13 thoughts on “A thrilling re-mix of Earthrise on the moon as seen by Apollo 8

    • Greg,
      Shooting the sunlit Earth and moon requires an exposure of around f/11 at 1/250 second – the same as taking a picture of a landscape on a sunny day on Earth. This is MUCH too brief to show stars. It’s the same reason you don’t see stars in daylight shots of the Earth taken from the space station; only pictures taken on the nightside, where you need to use a high ISO (film speed) and longer exposures will show the much fainter stars. Had the Apollo astronauts exposed their film for something like 10 seconds, you’d see stars in the photos though they’d have to be careful to avoid including much of the moon in the picture because of glare from overexposure.

  1. I sometimes get a little impatient. I checked out Comets this Week for Dec. 21-28 on Saturday, nothing updated. Today, still no updates. I know that there is one put in every week. Maybe, he will run the Dec. 21-28, and Dec.28- Jan. 4 at the same time.

  2. Thanx for sharing that interesting video. The photo is historical, but seeing it live must have been even better, so it’s interesting to hear the original recordings. It’s also nice to see how photography tecniques of Earth from the Moon are similar to shooting Moon from Earth (I did it just tonight, with similar focal and f/, and yes, no stars) – including taking more exposures for safety (if we find the originals maybe we could try an HDR!).

    Tonight we had the first clear day after one week. Various winter Messier objects in binoculars were astounding, I also saw Lovejoy. Still slim, I get the feeling that, respect what I saw a few weeks ago, the coma is brighter and the tail weaker, but possibly it’s due to the comet being lower.

    I also saw a couple of fireballs. One wa in Aur coming from Gem or Per (I don’t remember); the other was nearly a bolide, I saw it from almost city; it was also in the sky region near Jupiter, probably coming from UMa. Could they be Urseids, or late Geminids?

    • Giorgio,
      By the way, thank you for the moon photos! I was busy before Christmas, on the road and with family I almost forgot to tell you. I hope to use one in the blog. Interesting about seeing meteors from UMa. I also saw a bright one from the Dipper’s Bowl area on the night of the 26th. Mine was not an Ursid. Tomorrow morning I plan to look for Lovejoy again now that the moon has thinned down.

    • Lexie,
      Yes I am. I was around during the long preamble of Mercury, Gemini and the early Apollo missions until we finally landed there for the first time on July 20, 1969. The proof – including the 842 pounds of moon rocks and amazing photos returned by the astronauts – is incontrovertible. I’ve also had the opportunity to hear a lecture and meet and speak with Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmitt. I just can’t wait until we finally return again.

      • Bob, I’ve also had the joy of meeting Jack Schmitt several times, and have also heard Buzz Aldrin speak. Both are straight talkers, and if they said they’ve been to the moon, they have. I also saw the Apollo 12 crew carry a moon rock around the world on a goodwill trip.
        There’s a moon rock on display here at the U of Colorado, as there are at many places around the world, and they look like no other rock I’ve seen (except for some meteorites).
        And thousands – if not millions – of citizens watched those 360-foot tall Saturn 5′s lift off from the Cape and disappear into the sky. So where did they go? Area 51?
        Then there’s dozens of amateur astronomers who watched the Apollo craft on their correct trajectories towards the moon. Were they seeing cardboard models that were sent to the moon instead?
        And that blue marble picture that shows the earth as it actually appears from those distances – in 1968, before anyone really knew what it would look like?
        And what is the LRO seeing at all the landing spots – those cardboard Apollos that were filmed in a garage in Nevada? Oh, wait, the LRO must be a cardboard model, too.
        I guess there’s people who think the backs of their heads don’t exist because they can’t see them.
        Gheez….

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