Tonight’s midnight repost essay, written to celebrate the 50th anniversary in December 2018 of the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon, I think is a fitting finale to my month-long retrospective of past essays from Behind the Black. Unlike many others, which document the culture decline of our once great country, this essay looks hopefully to the grand future of the human race, once we have escaped this prison of Earth and begin to explore and settle the wider universe.
The real meaning of the Apollo 8 Earthrise image
Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the moment when the three astronauts on Apollo 8 witnessed their first Earthrise while in orbit around the Moon, and Bill Anders snapped the picture of that Earthrise that has been been called “the most influential environmental picture ever taken.”
The last few days have seen numerous articles celebrating this iconic image. While all have captured in varying degrees the significance and influence of that picture on human society on Earth, all have failed to depict this image as Bill Anders, the photographer, took it. He did not frame the shot, in his mind, with the horizon on the bottom of the frame, as it has been depicted repeatedly in practically every article about this image, since the day it was published back in 1968.
Instead, Anders saw himself as an spaceman in a capsule orbiting the waist of the Moon. He also saw the Earth as merely another space object, now appearing from behind the waist of that Moon. As a result, he framed the shot with the horizon to the right, with the Earth moving from right to left as it moved out from behind the Moon, as shown on the right.
His perspective was that of a spacefarer, an explorer of the universe that sees the planets around him as objects within that universe in which he floats.
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