The story behind NASA’s famous Earthrise image (VIDEO)


posted Friday, December 20, 2013 at 2:44 PM EDT


In 1968, the Apollo 8 mission went to space, the first manned voyage to orbit the Moon. On December 24, while traveling around our satellite, the astronauts took a series of photos that were to become some of the most influential of the 20th century. Dubbed "Earthrise", the images showed the Earth ascending from the Moon's horizon, and it was only a matter of chance that the module was rotating so that the astronauts happened upon that incredible view. Now, in celebration of the 45th anniversary of that incredible shot, the NASA Goddard Institute has recreated and simulated exactly what happened that day.

By using the photos captured by Apollo 8, data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, information from weather patterns on the Earth, and more, the Institute has been able to recreate exactly the location, elevation, and motion of the voyage when the images were taken. Add that to the recorded audio tapes, and the entire event can be reconstructed.

From a photography point of view, there's a lot to like about this reconstruction. The shots of the planet were rushed and impromptu, and there's a scramble on board to try and load up color film in time for that famed shot. They also talk about the settings they used to capture the image on the Hasselblad they were shooting on (f/11 and 1/250s), and about bracketing the shot to make sure they get the exposure right.

For what was to become one of the most famed images in Earth's history, there was an awful lot of luck involved. But isn't that often the way with incredible images? They happen at the least expected times.


(via @nchan)