Earthrise in color

This iconic image from December 24, 1968 shows the rising Earth seen by astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, Jr. and William Anders of Apollo 8 as they came from behind the Moon after their fourth orbit ( The proper perspective of the picture from the astronaut’s viewpoint is with the surface of the Moon at the right edge of the frame (see, but NASA rotated the picture 90 degrees before publication.

The picture was published widely in most major newspapers and magazines within two weeks of its publication by NASA. In Life’s 100 Photographs that Changed the World, wilderness photographer Galen Rowell called it “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”

In 1948, British astronomer Fred Holye said “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available, we shall, in an emotional sense, acquire an additional dimension…Once let the shire isolation of the Earth become plain to every man, whatever his nationality or creed, and a new idea s powerful as any in history will be let loose.” (Quoted in Vicky Goldberg, The Power of Photography, How Photographs Changed Our Lives (New York: Abbeville Publishing Group, 1991, p. 52.)

Earthise B&WHowever, this color image wasn’t the first view of Earthrise taken from lunar orbit. On August 23, 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first picture, in black and white. The purpose of the Lunar Orbiter missions in the 1960s was to scout out Apollo landing sites. Life magazine published this photo in its September 9, 1996 issue (story at The image quality reflects the technology of its day, with heavy striping and blurry edges. This image, along with many others, has been restored using digital technology.

The mission of the Lunar Orbiter Recovery Project (LOIRP) project at NASA Ames Research Center is to digitize the original (analog) data tapes from the five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft that were sent to the Moon in 1966 and 1967. The program is funded by NASA, SkyCorp Inc, SpaceRef Interactive, Inc., and private individuals.

The program obtained the last surviving set of analog tapes from the Lunar Orbiter 1 mission and, using both 1960s analog data playback machines and electronic technology, was able to restore and reprocess the data. (see and for detail.)

The LOIRP web site is

Earthrise old & newOn June 18, 2009, NASA launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite missions to the moon. The LRO ( is a robotic spacecraft that is mapping the Moon’s surface. In April 2012, NASA released a visualization on YouTube depicting the taking of the famous 1968 Earthrise picture, using detailed LRO data to map the location. The video narration is the original audio recording of the Apollo 8 astronauts. The visualization may be viewed at

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

John 1:1-6; 14

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team!

You have Successfully Subscribed!