The First Earthrise

NASA
NASA
The Lunar Orbiter I took this first ever photo of the Earth from the vicinity of the moon on August 23, 1966.
In honor of its 45th anniversary, TIME looks back at iconic photographs of the Earth in orbit.

Geocentrism died on August 23, 1966. Centuries had passed since human beings first dispensed with the old notion that the Earth was the hub around which the universe turned. But what we know rationally and embrace intuitively are often two different things. No matter where we stood on our home planet, after all, no matter how high we climbed into — or even above — the atmosphere, Earth’s horizon still defined the limits of our vision. We could see how out-there looked from down-here, but what we never saw was the reverse. And then, 45 years ago this month, we all at once could.

In that otherwise unremarkable summer, NASA’s Lunar Orbiter 1 arrived at the moon. As it rounded the far side on one of its early orbits, it snapped this head-turning image of the Earth — carved to a mere crescent like our own little moon — rising over the dominating arc of the lunar horizon. Our species had seen the sun rise and the moon rise, but we had never seen an Earthrise. It was both an illuminating and a humbling experience — one, some scientists hoped, that would help us appreciate the fragility of our little soap bubble world. Two generations on, that’s a hope worth recalling.

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior editor for TIME and oversees science and technology reporting. He has written or co-written more than 35 cover stories for the magazine and regularly contributes articles and commentary on science and health stories. His notable cover stories include reports on global warming, the science of appetite, the Apollo 11 anniversary, and the roots of human morality.


Related Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson is back in print

The Return of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment

For 62 years, only the most fortunate of photographers and photo book collectors could peruse Henri Cartier-Bresson's masterpiece The Decisive Moment. This is about to change as German publisher Steidl is putting the finishing touches to the book's first ever reprint

Read More
A girl looks out from a sleeping compartment on a new train preparing to leave from Basra to Baghdad, the only passenger rail service currently operational in Iraq.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 22, 2014

Contrasto

How 12 Exhibitions, Two Museums and One Gallery Changed Photography Forever

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,614 other followers