Earthrise: Remembered

In December of 1968, U.S. spacecraft Apollo 8 was launched to evaluate potential landing sites on the moon. The crew consisted of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders.

For the first time, on the fourth lunar orbit, the astronauts could see all the way to the horizon of the moon as well as into a huge swath of black sky above and beyond it. A startling image was revealed. Through William Ander’s camera lens, humanity got its first view of the Earth. An Earth rising over the wasteland of the moon.


When the film was returned to Earth and developed, it was a sensation. Now called Earthrise, the photo showed the blue of our planet’s oceans in clear contrast to the blackness of space and the barren, grey surface of the moon.

This one photograph, went on to become, one of most influential photograph’s in history. It was cited as the greatest environmental photograph ever taken. It is credited with helping to kick-start the environmental movement here on Earth as it was chosen as the symbol for the first World Earth Day in April 1970.

As per William Anders, “the Earth we saw rising over the battered grey lunar surface was small and delicate, a magnificent spot of color in the vast blackness of space. Once-distant places appeared inseparably close. Borders that once rendered division vanished. All of humanity appeared joined together on this glorious-but-fragile sphere.”

The Blue sphere that appeared so fragile from space, nurtures all lives forms including the human race. Its significance needs to be appreciated, now more than ever. This planet, our Mother Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Contrast against this the fact that humans have evolved only about 200,000 years ago and civilization as we know it is, only about 6,000 years old.

Although we have accomplished much in this short time, the damage over the last 100 years, on the Earth has been equally immense. Our rivers and oceans have got polluted, forests burnt, flora and fauna destroyed. This has triggered climatic changes, events that will only put our own existence in peril. The Earth like any other life form, will exterminate species that pose a threat to its own survival!

Unless of course we understand what William Anders means when he said “We are all linked in a joined human enterprise; we are bound to a planet we all must share. We are all, together, stewards of this fragile treasure”.

The choice is Ours alone!

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