50 Years Ago on Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 Photographed This Earth Rise

Earth photograph taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on Christmas Eve December 24, 1968, while in orbit around the Moon, showing the Earth rising for the third time before the Apollo 8 crew above the lunar horizon, approximately 780 kilometers from the spacecraft. Width of the photographed area at the lunar horizon is about 175 kilometers. The land visible on Earth cut across by dark shadow is west Africa. The Earth appears to move up and down a little 1) when the orbital distance between the moon and Earth changes; 2) libration, which is slight movement of Earth due to eccentricity of the moon's orbit; 3) rotation of Earth while the moon does not rotate and always has the same face toward Earth.
Earth photograph taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on Christmas Eve December 24, 1968, while in orbit around the Moon, showing the Earth rising for the third time before the Apollo 8 crew above the lunar horizon, approximately 780 kilometers from the spacecraft. Width of the photographed area at the lunar horizon is about 175 kilometers. The land visible on Earth cut by dark shadow is west Africa. From the Moon, the Earth appears to move up and down a little  1) when the orbital distance between the Moon and Earth changes;  2) libration, which is slight movement of Earth due to eccentricity of the Moon’s orbit;  3) rotation of Earth while the Moon does not rotate and always has the same face toward Earth.

December 21, 2018 Albuquerque, New Mexico – Apollo 8, the second manned spaceflight mission in the United States Apollo space program, was launched fifty years ago on December 21, 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave low Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, photograph the back side (below)  and safely return to Earth. The three-astronaut crew were Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders. They were the first humans to travel beyond low Earth orbit; to see Earth as a whole planet; to orbit another celestial body, the Moon; to see the far side of the Moon;  to witness and photograph an “Earthrise,”  to escape the gravity of another celestial body, the Moon;  and to re-enter Earth’s gravitational well and land.  Apollo 8 was the third flight and the first crewed launch of the Saturn V rocket, and was the first human spaceflight from the Kennedy Space Center, located adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This photograph of a nearly full moon was taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft at a point above 70 degrees east longitude. (Hold picture with moon's dark portion at left). Mare Crisium, the circular, dark-colored area near the center, is near the eastern edge of the moon as viewed from Earth. Mare Nectaris is the circular mare near the terminator. The large, irregular maira are Tranquillitatis and Fecunditatis. The terminator at left side of picture crosses Mare Tranquillitatis and highlands to the south. Lunar farside features occupy most of the right half of the picture.
This photograph of a nearly full moon shows some of the moon’s back side of dark splotches taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft at a point above 70 degrees east longitude. The terminator division between light and dark at left side of picture crosses Mare Tranquillitatis and highlands to the south. Lunar backside features occupy most of the right half of the picture.


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