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by Karen Pecota

The NASA space flight journey of the Apollo 8 crew and its mission was first and foremost to circle the Moon and get back alive. To photograph the Earth was secondary. The award-winning filmmaker, musician and composer, Emmamuel Vaughan-Lees' Earthrise is the narrative told solely by the Apollo 8 crew team of the first image captured of the Earth from space on their mission in 1968, thankful that they had brought a camera along.

Launched on December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 was the second manned space flight mission in the United States Apollo space program. It was the first manned spacecraft to reach the Earth's Moon and then solely to orbit it as their goal.

The three-astronaut crew — Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William (Bill) Anders were the first space crew to see the Earth in color. They called it the blue marble. The documented experience and memory calling out the grandeur of their first glimpse and impressions of our Earth is a shared emotion.

A remarkable eye-opener occurred by the three-man crew. They explained that while circling around the Moon they came upon the space between the Earth and Moon that is like a black hole called the Shadow of the Moon which actually even blocked out the stars. The Moon had no color but had all shades of gray. These sights of the Moon were mesmerizing even though they were colorless.

As they continued their orbited journey a sudden phenomenon occurred. Before their eyes they saw Earth rising. Enamored with the incredible beauty of the Earth as it appeared to rise was a stark contrast from the colorless Moon seen just moments prior. All three astronauts were emotional gazing upon the first glimpse of the Earth.

Anders was the designated photographer among the three and it is his shot of the Earth that we have deemed the most valuable photo of the 20th century. Only twenty-four astronauts have seen the Earth rise that was first visually captured by the Apollo 8 crew members and Bill's photo is the most reproduced.

In the first official televised interview with the crew some 50 years ago, they were asked if their experience changed them. Shocked by the question as if it was a no-brainier, there was an initial silence among the three. They gained their composure and shared, "Seeing the Earth from space, amplified the significance of us as people and our shared home. One doesn't fully understand it until you leave it."