Fifty years ago, Apollo 8 was launched as the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth orbit in order to circle the moon. Astronauts Frank Borman, Bill Anders, and James Lovell had an extensive list of tasks to perform during the flight which would inform future space flights like Apollo 11’s moon landing the following year. They successfully fulfilled their mission which included taking photos of the lunar surface, but they also returned with a photographic image taken as an unplanned spontaneous reaction to the spectacular view unfolding before them as their space module rounded the moon. Taken by Bill Anders on Christmas eve, the photo would become a worldwide sensation known as Earthrise.
Filmmaker Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee has created a 30 minute documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of the flight and the making of the iconic photo. Told by the astronauts themselves who were interviewed by Vaughan-Lee, the film includes archival footage of their activities inside the capsule as well as the changing views outside the capsule’s windows. Here is an article by Vaughan-Lee about the making of the film with a link to the documentary.
Watching the film, I was taken by the way they were all deeply affected by the experience of seeing “the little blue marble” rise above the moon’s horizon. “We were all awestruck” says one. On this day of thanksgiving, I want to give thanks for their accomplishment, the image they brought back – an icon of oneness of all life on this little planet, and the earth itself, our beautiful home.