Today, exactly 50 years ago, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders, the astronauts aboard Apollo 8, became the first humans to circle the Moon. A historical date where a snapshot was taken for posterity: Earthrise.

That photograph of December 24, 1968 would become memorable for many reasons. First, because it showed for the first time the Earth rising above the lunar landscape. As photographer Galen Rowell once wrote when Life selected it as one of the 100 photographs that changed the world, “it is one of the most influential photographs taken.”

Rowell was referring to the symbology that showed that capture, to the image of our small and vulnerable planet in the darkness and immensity of space. A single photo made everyone aware of the fragility of the place we inhabited.

Interestingly, Earthrise did not have an immediate impact. Its philosophical meaning was given over the years, after NASA launched it on a label, and Life magazine highlighted it as the defining image of an entire era.

 

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