The 50th anniversary of Apollo 8: Humanity’s first trip to the Moon

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No wonder that the American space program that brought three men to the moon was named after that high-flying god. "This is the moment that the Space Race ends", engineer-historian David Mindell, author of the book "Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight", says during the NOVA show. Even before the Second World War, the artist Chesley Bonestell had painted imaginary views of planetary surfaces. Only he didn't call it an atlas, because that term was first established by his friend Gerhard Mercator a couple of years later, but Theatrum orbis terrarum - "Theater of the World". And the earth was without form and void.

It was on December 21, 1968, that Apollo 8 launched from Cape Kennedy, in Florida, sending U.S. astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr and William Anders on the world's first human mission to the Moon.

The Apollo 8 space vehicle was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on December 21, 1968. NASA had cautioned the men that their words would be heard by the largest audience in human history.

"Oh, my God!" Borman suddenly said.

"It was in the turning-around, looking-forward process when I saw this thing coming out of the corner of my eye in the window". "I just happened to be in the right place at the right time".

EPIC's objective is to provide multiple images of Earth per day, to allow us to see how the world is changing over time. And so it brought people together again and also demonstrated the ability of good leadership, teamwork and initiative on the part of the mission control team at NASA taking nearly certain catastrophe into a successful recovery.

'The striking image in "Earthrise" - of a lovely planet, all by itself (aside from a barren moonscape) - conveyed a clear message that we must all come together to save it.

SHEEHAN: So I think Bill Anders was quick on his feet thinking this through, and he was able to capture this image, which utterly transformed each of these men.

Three happy Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman left William A. Anders center and James A. Lovell stroll across the deck of the USS Yorktown after their recovery from the Pacific Ocean Dec. 28 1968

Fifty years ago today, astronauts orbiting the Moon captured a photograph that some people say changed the world.

They weren't the only ones overcome with emotion. Their job was also to document possible landing sites on the southern plains of Mare Tranquillitatis. On December 24, the crew did a live TV broadcast from the Moon and read from the book of Genesis. Just paint me a picture of what that looked like. "When you start to see the actual items you have in the museum in this historical archival footage with have those exact items, that's pretty exciting to see", said Chris Henry, museum programs coordinator.

With modern digital technology, however, the real first Earthrise image - originally in black and white - has now been remastered to have the combined resolution and color of the first three images. Lovell managed to get a magazine of color film for Anders who then shot two images of the continuing earthrise. A picture of Earth rising over the gray, crater-riddled lunar horizon.

Such a sight inspires contrasting feelings.

The winter solstice marks the day with the shortest period of daylight when Earth's orbital motion points the South Pole most closely in the direction of the sun. KNAU's Melissa Sevigny spoke with local space historian Bill Sheehan about why the "Earthrise" photo mattered in 1968, and still matters today.

Earthrise is now one of the most reproduced space photos of all time, appearing on USA postage stamps, posters, and the cover of Time magazine in 1969.

"I just wish I really had that moment to live over again", Collins says, "because I would have said to them, 'Apollo 8, you can now slip the surly bonds of Earth and dance the sky, Apollo 8".

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