“We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”
– Bill Anders, Apollo 8
“Earthrise” from Apollo 8, December 24, 1968 (NASA)
On Christmas Eve 46 years ago, December 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts entered orbit around the Moon and came upon an amazing sight: a blue Earth “rising*” beyond the tan-grey desolation of the lunar surface. Commander Frank Borman spotted the scene first was able to rotate the Command Module so Earth remained in view through the small windows, while CM pilot Jim Lovell snapped this photograph onto a roll of color film that Lunar Module Pilot Bill Anders was able to quickly locate for him. It was the first time humans saw the Earth from the Moon in person, and it was also the first Christmas astronauts spent in space.
“The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth,” Jim Lovell said.
To mark the occasion, they sent Christmas greetings and images back home and broadcast a reading from the Book of Genesis. Borman closed the message with the words “good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, ...