NASA spacecraft captures update to iconic Apollo 8 'Earthrise' photo
In 1968, American astronaut William Anders captured one of the most iconic photos for human space exploration - Earthrise. Now, over 45 years later, another NASA mission has snapped an updated version for our enjoyment.
When the Apollo 8 spacecraft made the first manned orbit of the Moon, the astronauts inside were busy taking photographs of the lunar surface. As they rounded the far side of the Moon and Earth came back into view, astronaut Anders snapped what is probably the most popular image of the space program ever taken. It has graced countless astronomy books, calendars, posters and textbooks since, and for the 45th anniversary last year, NASA constructed a video recreating the events of the mission leading up to the photograph.
This new image, though, is no simulation. It was taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, at it circled around the Moon in much the same way as the Apollo 8 astronauts did back then.
It should be noted that you wouldn't experience an 'Earth-rise' if you were standing on the lunar surface. It only happens when you're orbiting the Moon.
Although the Moon rises for us here on Earth, that's due to the difference between Earth's rotation (~24 hours) and the Moon's orbit (~27 days). Since our rotation goes much faster than the moon's orbit, we lose sight of it for roughly half the day. From the Moon's surface, though, the Earth's position only changes by a very small amount (due to what's known as libration). If you landed there, the Earth would stay roughly in the same spot in the sky