The Story Behind the Apollo 8 Earthrise Photo

Peter Lobner

You’ve all seen the iconic, first-ever photo of Earthrise as seen from lunar orbit.

NASA Earthrise Source: NASA

This photo was taken during the first lunar orbital mission, Apollo 8, on 24 December 1968 by astronaut Bill Anders, with help from the other Apollo 8 crew members, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell.

NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center has reconstructed the events surrounding that historic photo using detailed lunar maps prepared from current Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) data, along with the photos taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts, data on the orientation and maneuvers of the Apollo 8 spacecraft, and the actual recorded conversations among the astronauts.

I think you will enjoy NASA Goddard’s 7-minute video reconstruction, which you can view at the following link:

Now, 47 years later, that photo is no less inspirational than it was the day it was first published. Thank you, Apollo 8, for a enduring Christmas present.