An iconic image of Earth, a Christmas gift from the crew of Apollo 8

Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve, the thee-man crew of Apollo 8 braked into orbit around the moon. It was the first piloted mission to the moon, and the first flight giving astronauts, and through them the world, a view of Earth as a planet floating in the black void of space. In a live broadcast from lunar orbit that Christmas Eve in 1968, commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their unearthly vantage point, and took turns reading the first few verses of Genesis. It was a remarkable moment, shared by one of the largest television audiences in history. The iconic “Earthrise” image below, shot by Anders, came to symbolize the environmental movement. Said Borman, “from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”

Image: William Anders/NASA