Animated Recreation of Shooting Earthrise - Apollo 8, NASA
The crew was clearly excited about their capture. They recognized the beauty of the scene. Maybe they even recognized its significance, seeing our world from another planet. For a couple of technical high achievers—i.e., left brain thinkers—the astronauts sure used the right side of their brains to make that capture.
The unanticipated effect of this photo comes from the tangible evidence of Earth being alone in a sea of black and seen from another planetoid in the foreground. You get a real sense of looking backwards at Earth from “somewhere else,” as if you were on another planet.
Without the moon, it would look more abstract, almost like Earth was painted on a black canvas. With the moon in the foreground of the photo, you get the feeling you have gone somewhere and are now looking back at Earth from the moon. With the moon in the foreground, you have “place” connected to the viewer, making the whole experience less theoretical and contrived.
Why is this important? For some philosophers, seeing Earth externally makes a solid connection to the idea our world is but a small vessel in a very big sea of black space. Some say this image was the beginning of the environmental movement. Nature photographer Galen Rowell called it, “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.” In the context of geo-politics, if you take a step back from the normal everyday activities and embrace the feelings that come from seeing a picture like this, it causes a change in perspective as far as how one relates to the other actors.
This is all important in that the normal everyday experience of the billions of humans on our planet is that their whole universe is the surface of the planet, with its blue skies, hard earth, and deep oceans. There is nothing else and it seems so vast.
Even though there are text books describing our planet orbiting the sun, as a member of a medium sized galaxy, in a medium sized cluster of other galaxies, it is difficult to embrace what a small thing our planet is. However, when you see our world as presented in this Apollo 8 image, it transforms theory into a bit of reality that our home is but a small place in a very big universe.
Happy New Year!