Relive -- or see for the first time -- Apollo 8's Christmas Eve broadcast
NASA announced this week that they are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 8 Christmas Eve on NASA TV this December 24 and 25. Apollo 8 launched on December 21, 1968. It took three long days for astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and Bill Anders to journey to the Moon, the first men to do so. They orbited the Moon ten times. During the trip, they famously read aloud, over a television feed back to Earth and shown live on television around the world, the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis. The camera was not pointed on their faces; instead, it pointed out the window to a view of Earth, marbled with deep ocean blue, desert ochre, jungle green, and cloud white, floating in black space above the colorless, barren landscape of the Moon. That image is possibly one of the most significant of the twentieth century. This all unfolded long before I was born; I've always lived in an age where images of Earth against the blackness of space were an integral part of our culture. I'll be watching the broadcast and trying to think about what it would be like to see that for the first time.
Earth rose over the lunar horizon as Apollo 8 completed the first manned trip behind the far side of the Moon. The mission also returned the first live television coverage of the lunar surface, on December 24, 1968.